Hello my Temple Sinai family!

I am honored and excited to share my first president’s message with you. A huge ‘Thank You’ to all of the past presidents and board members who have inspired and supported me in this journey. I look forward to doing the same for Temple Sinai‘s emerging leaders.

To prepare for this new role as Temple Sinai’s President, I was lucky enough to attend the URJ’s Scheidt Seminar in Dallas, Texas. This seminar and training for incoming Temple presidents put together leaders from congregations of all sizes to network, share ideas, and charge all of our batteries for the challenge ahead. A moment from Shabbat morning worship, led by URJ President, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, particularly reshaped my thinking about the role of the president.

During the Torah service, all the incoming presidents were called up in groups for three aliyot. The first aliyah was for those who were raised in Reform Judaism and always loved it – these are your former camp counselors, if you will. The Reform songs and traditions have always been a part of their lives and hearts. This group brings a love and appreciation for our Temple traditions and history, and their wish for the next generation to have the same precious memories. They also understand what it feels like when a tradition you love is phased out, and how to cope with those changes.

The second aliyah was for those raised in Reform Judaism, but who had not always loved it (Rabbi Jacobs considers himself among this group). They understand feeling disenchanted and disconnected, and yet something has drawn them back to their congregations and even to Temple leadership. The knowledge of this group holds the key to reviving our members’ spirits and reinspiring participation.

Finally, the third aliyah was for those who had come to Reform Judaism later in life. Maybe – like me – they had been raised in a different branch of Judaism, or even raised in a different faith altogether. In a society where Americans are drifting away from organized religion, this group holds our optimism for the future. That we have the ability to attract new members from outside our own community and appeal to those who may have felt excluded from Judaism is our biggest opportunity for growth.

Seeing the power and emotion of these aliyot transformed my belief about what it means to be a Temple president. Rather than crafting a master plan, my role is to draw out these stories and lessons from you, my Temple Sinai family. I look forward to learning what brought you to Temple Sinai, and what keeps you here. I promise to listen and remain curious about your journey.

Thank you again for your trust and support in me and the incoming Board. May we guide with integrity, and may our leadership be in Your service.

Tova McGilvray

April 21, 2023 – Attendees at the Scheidt Seminar 2023. Can you spot Tova McGilvray? Hint: first row, center.
April 21, 2023 – Tova McGilvray (Temple Sinai President Elect, center) with leadership from the Union of Reform Judaism: Jennifer Kaufman, Chair of the URJ BOD (left) and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ (right).