Thoughts from Michael F. Schwartz, EMJC President 2017-2019

I would like to take the opportunity of introducing myself to you. I am an attorney at law with 40 years of experience. I have served on several other boards and was Chairman of the Board of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. I have served as a Trustee at East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC) for the last several years and feel well prepared to tackle the myriad of issues before us. It is an honor to serve as President of EMJC and I look forward to working with you to ensure the continued success of our congregation. I welcome your insights, suggestions and feedback. Please give me your support.

I have just returned from a trip to Scandinavia where I attended Shabbat services in Oslo. Going to the services was not easy. It required us to produce our passports and an explanation of how we came to visit the synagogue. We entered by going through a door which had to be closed before the entrance door to the temple could be opened. The congregation consisting of about 40 people davening the liturgy in Hebrew using familiar melodies. A fellow traveler had just lost her father and was able to recite Kaddish. Afterwards, we were invited to join everyone in a wonderful
Kiddish. There were parents and children present. It felt like we were welcomed into their family. Afterwards, we visited the Jewish museum in Oslo and were reminded of the atrocities of a war that is still not so distant particularly given the safeguards even now in place.

Shortly after my return, I attended a memorial service in our Grand Ball Room in memory of the passing of Dr. Elton Strauss. Dr. Strauss had died on Saturday. In less than 2 days Shirley Strauss and the Strauss family were comforted by a room full of fellow congregants. Rabbi Kass gave a heartfelt sermon celebrating the life of Dr. Strauss and his, and thus our, long relationship with the Strauss family. Again, I felt like I was a part of an extended family that was coming together for one of us at a very difficult time in an effort to share the pain and celebrate the life of a beloved family member. It seems to me that this is the essence of our membership. I hope that you will consider this as we approach the High Holidays and remember that your support for this institution is vital to its continued existence.

Michael F. Schwartz
President 2017-19 of East Midwood Jewish Center