Our deeply held beliefs and principles guide the actions and behaviors of the congregation:
TBE's congregational family is founded on the values of warmth, togetherness, openness, belonging, caring, and the sharing of Jewish living.
TBE values Jewish religious and cultural education for children and adults.
TBE is committed to the Reform movement and its response to Jewish and social issues.
TBE values the full opportunity for members to express their spirituality and belief in God.
TBE is a home and place to meet the needs of the congregation in regard to worship, Jewish identity and life cycle events.
The concept of Genesis (see below) exemplifies our belief that people of different faiths can share, understand each other, and draw mutual strength from the relationship.
Allyn Kantor: 1968-1970
As the second president of Temple Beth Emeth from 1968 to 1970, my most memorable moments were the times I spent with our first Rabbi Bruce S. Warshal and his lovely wife, Lynn. I loved Bruce's enthusiasm, passion, courage and leadership. Reflecting his pre-rabbinate law school education and practice, he structured his sermons with the logic and clarity of an appellate argument, citing bible verses instead of case precedent to support the main theme of his sermons. An enjoyable person be around, he was the right rabbi for the early years of our congregation.
Marilyn Scott: 1981-1983
I have so many wonderful memories of my time as TBE president, many of which relate to the exciting early days of our early Genesis partnership. But one experience I have never forgotten was when a bar mitzvah was scheduled for Friday evening. All the out-of-town guests were arriving, the social hall was appropriately decorated, and the young man was ready. But that afternoon, Rabbi Mecklenburger's wife went into labor with their first child. Needless to say, his place was with her. Yet there was no thought of postponement. Barbara Berry, then Pulpit VP, and I "co-officiated." In those days, it was probably something of a shock, especially with people unfamiliar with our service, to see two women on the bima leading the service. Of course, all went well. When Rabbi Mecklenburger returned a week later, he called the young man up before the Ark for the traditional rabbinic blessing.
Alan Cotzin: 1983-1987
When I became President of TBE, there were fewer than 150 members and I had just negotiated the acquisition of our cemetery. A few weeks after the Annual Meeting, Rabbi Mecklenburger informed me that he had accepted a pulpit in Ft. Worth, Texas, and TBE would need to begin the process of a rabbinic search. At the time, we were fortunate that Rabbi Richard Hertz from Temple Beth El (Bloomfield Township) agreed to serve as our twice-a-month interim Rabbi. Interestingly, he also led TBE's very first service in 1966!
The search committee did an outstanding job, and Rabbi Levy became our new Rabbi. Though this was a time of rapid membership growth, it was also a time when onegs were always home-baked and everyone knew one another.
Arthur Lindenberg: 1987-1989
On July 1, 1987, Alan Cotzin literally passed the buck to me in Israel. We were among about forty others on the first Israel trip led by Rabbi Levy. My favorite moments as president were being on the bima to say Mazel Tov to B'nai Mitzvot. One evening during a Bat Mitzvah, as we were saying the Shema, the power went out. We continued through the service with candles and flashlights. Just at the moment the young lady was about to read her Torah portion, the electricity came back on. A miracle? Perhaps. We also had many challenges. Our congregation was growing quickly. It was apparent that we would need larger space very soon.
Steve Rhodes: 1989-1991
I remember my time as president of TBE with great fondness, satisfaction and gratitude. It was a time of growth for our congregation. So much so that it was time to begin serious discussions about the feasibility of expanding our building with our friends at St. Clare. And so that journey began. And, thanks to Rabbi Levy, to those who followed me in leadership, and to everyone at TBE and St. Clare's, we now have a building that sustains us in our mission. I only add that during my presidency, I had the opportunity to spend significant and meaningful time with Rabbi Levy. It was an opportunity of growth for me in my own spirituality, my commitment to Judaism, and my leadership skills. For that opportunity I will always be grateful to him and the congregation.
Stu Simon: 1991-1993
Without any doubt, my most memorable moment took place on October 23, 1992. The prior evening our congregation, after much deliberation, had decided to proceed with the expansion of our building, in partnership with St. Clare's. (That expansion included the building of the new sanctuary). The following evening, I had the honor of appearing before a gathering of St. Clarians (who had already voted to proceed) to inform them of the Temple's decision. In my remarks, I observed that "the bonds between these two peoples of different faith, but common goof, grew stronger yet. For like two individuals, the highest form of pure love and respect comes with the awareness that the interest of each is also that of the other."
My presidency was one of transition and growth. Shortly after being elected, Temple Beth Emeth and St. Clare began their planned building expansion which included classrooms, a library, kitchen and sanctuary. For most of the summer there was a temporary wall along the office wing while the construction progressed. Business as usual was conducted in the original area and other than strange and sometimes loud noises coming from the other side nothing appeared to be changed. One day I arrived to see the wall down and a building that seemed to more than double in size. Clearly, it was no longer the place that had for so long been my Jewish home nor the one in which I had accepted the presidency. That day I prayed that I would be able to do it justice. A short time later, as the Holy Days began, I had the honor of carrying the Torah along with Rabbi Levy and the congregation from our old sanctuary, now our social hall, around the circle drive and up the front walk to our new one. Together, we began a new chapter in the life of our congregation.
Pat McCune: 1999-2001
During my second year as president of TBE's Board of Trustees, our son Aaron became a bar mitzvah. This had special meaning for me beyond a parent's pride, because I experienced the importance of a welcoming community in a way I hadn't before. All of us in the McCune Stein family felt especially embraced by the TBE community: I am the only one in my large McCune family who is Jewish. Yet, all were welcomed.
Bill Parkus: 2001-2003
During my presidency, I focused on paying off the mortgage on the building. We used TBE's 36 Anniversary as a fundraiser. The anniversary was a hit - people enjoyed themselves and we raised approximately $55,000 toward debt retirement.
Gretta Spier: 2003-2005
I was overcome with nostalgia when I reread the reports from my term as president. Wonderful things happened, showcasing joyful collaboration and pooling of congregant talents: a gala honoring Annie Rose's ten years with TBE, which gave a financial boost to the Caring Community Fund; Kol HaLev concerts with the Ann Arbor Symphony; recognition of Rabbi Levy's 25 years in the pulpit with a Shabbaton (Rabbi Lawrence Kushner) and festive dinner. However, one of the most rewarding things we were able to do took place at the Annual Meeting of 2005. We literally burned the mortgage for the "new" sanctuary and classrooms. It took the foresight and skill of those on the Finance Committee (and a little luck) to see it retired. This event seemed a long time in coming, but was very necessary if we were going to be able to focus on needs of the future.
Wendy Lawrence: 2005-2009
In the spring of 2009, TBE celebrated the 25th anniversary of Rabbi Levy's tenure with our congregation. We had multiple events to mark the occasion; a special Mitzvah Day at Alpha House, a family-friendly shabbat service in his honor, a day of learning with Rabbi Levy as our scholar-in-residence, and a gala anniversary party. I was especially involved in the gala evening at the WCC Morris Lawrence building. It included a wonderful entertainment interlude. We had a slide show of the rabbi and the congregation over the 25 years, Klezmer music, classical piano, songs, including several with slightly altered lyrics for the occasion, a "This is Your Life" video and a unique version of Jonah and the whale.
Susan Gitterman: 2013-2016
Many exciting events occurred during my tenure as TBE president. I was fortunate to be on both the Cantor Search Committee and the Rabbi Search Committee. I was also deeply involved in the Tri-Board meetings involving TBE, St. Clare, and Genesis. It was rewarding to meet and work with people who care about our congregation, about Genesis, and about our greater community.
Genesis, founded in 1976, manages the building co-owned by Temple Beth Emeth and St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church. Members of both congregations comprise the Genesis board. Each congregation maintains its own identity as a religious group; however several times a year there are joint celebrations such as an Erev Thanksgiving Service and joint Adult Choir concerts. This joint arrangement of over 30 years demonstrates that people of two different faiths can live and work together in harmony.
The Genesis Humanitarian Award is generally presented every two years at the Erev Thanksgiving Service. Usually, the giving of the Genesis Humanitarian Award alternates back and forth between both congregations - one time given to a St. Clare congregant and the next time to a TBE congregant. We know during the past few years many congregants have stood out - sinking heart and soul into developing the improved Genesis relationship - with which we are now blessed. There are also those among us who throw heart and soul into social action activities or volunteer at community organizations - like the Back Door Food Pantry, Food Gatherer's and the Interfaith Hospitality Network - which exemplifies our combined outreach into our greater community.
Among all these worthy individuals and groups, we recognize TBE congregant Bob Milstein, who inspires all of us for the future that lies ahead.
Thank you, Bob Milstein, for the inspiring and hard work you do for the TBE, St. Clare's, and greater Ann Arbor communities!