(Courtesy of Congregation Rinat Yisrael) Teaneck’s Congregation Rinat Yisrael will hold its 32nd Annual Dinner on February 22 at Congregation Keter Torah. The dinner will be chaired by Tova Cohen and Rena Zelig. The guests of honor are Leora and Jonathan Kukin; the Sruli Guttman Community Service Award will be presented to Susan Richmond; and Shira and Howard Forman will receive the Young Leadership Honoree Award.
Notably, in recognition of the exceptional quality of the Rinat youth department’s programming, the dinner will continue its annual tradition of acknowledging Rinat’s graduating group leaders and shadows for their service to all of the children of the community.
This 32nd,“Lev” dinner, appropriately reflects the very heart of this vibrant, established-yet-growing community that, under the leadership and guidance of both Rabbi Yosef Adler and Assistant Rabbi Ezra Weiner, inspires its members to take davening and limud Torah seriously, and to commit to chesed and Eretz Yisrael.
Each of the honorees, in his or her respective ways, demonstrates the heart of the Rinat Yisrael community. Their dedication to Rinat has enabled the shul’s varied learning opportunities and programming to flourish over the past year.
Leora and Jonathan Kukin, guests of honor, hail from families well known for their service to the Jewish community, and have continued to lend their most impressive and tireless efforts to Congregation Rinat Yisrael. Leora has made an enormous impact on the very structure of the shul through her participation in the sanctuary design committee, which assisted in the design of the new sanctuary interior, stained glass windows, and the donor recognition wall. Currently, she continues to play a role in the refurbishment of the social hall. She is also a participating member of the Rinat Yisrael Community Security Service (CSS) team and the Teaneck Yoetzet Initiative committee. Thanks to her service to the community, members can daven in a safe and beautiful “makom tefillah.” Likewise, Jonathan has served as a member of the board of trustees, as an officer, and recently completed his two year term as president. Leora and Jonathan positioned the shul’s capital campaign with the lead gift for the last two sanctuaries, the first in honor of their parents, and the second in honor of the shul’s morah d’asra, Rabbi Yosef Adler, and Rebbetzin Sheryl Adler.
Leora and Jonathan conveyed what Rinat means to them with beautiful eloquence: “The essential spirit of Rinat Yisrael is defined by the people that comprise our kehilla, not the bricks and mortar that form our building. The value placed on academic rigor and intellectual integrity is exceeded only by the respect for and joyful engagement with tefilla.”
For Leora and Jonathan, a single Shabbat exemplifies what the shul means to them: “Rinat, our spiritual home, bears the hallmarks of song and joy, peace and harmony. As our individual voices join together, our collective voice is strengthened and beautified. As depicted on the donor recognition plaque gracing the shul atrium, images and pesukim express the power of song and music to spiritually uplift us. Each member of our kehilla sings his or her own unique song, and from all of these voices emerges a beautiful symphony.” It is thanks to the Kukins that this symphony has developed such a graceful, refined tempo.
In grateful acknowledgment of her endless work for the community, Susan Richmond will receive this year’s Sruli Guttman Community Service Award. Richmond, originally from the Upper West Side, came to Rinat Yisrael with her husband Michael in 1985, and they have been active members ever since. Upon her arrival, Richmond began dedicating herself to the community in various ways, including serving as the president of Nerot, Rinat’s sisterhood. She also chaired the shul dinner for several years, organizes the Simchat Torah women’s shiur and heads the women’s chevra kadisha. One of Richmond’s most important roles, and one that requires much patience and sensitivity, is that of chair of the high holiday seating committee. Her cheerful, skilled approach ensures that everyone’s seating is handled with care and dignity. Richmond and her family have always been passionate about service to the shul community and its members, and describing their ongoing
attachment to the shul and its members, they said, “Our favorite aspect of Rinat is all the wonderful people we have met and with whom we have cultivated lasting friendships.”
The Young Leadership Honorees, Shira and Howard Forman, moved to their home in Teaneck in 2015, became members the next day, and have been devoted public servants ever since. Shira co-chairs the social action committee, which works to improve the lives of, and engage meaningfully with, those beyond the shul community. She is also a member of the welcoming committee and assists with planning for various shul events. Likewise, Howie is a member of the youth committee, which is charged with providing a positive shul experience in a fun and educational environment that encourages a commitment to davening, learning Torah and contributing to the community, while also nurturing friendships. He is also often asked to speak at events welcoming new members. Although they came to Rinat Yisrael only a few years ago, Howie, originally from Tampa, Florida, and Shira, from Brooklyn, New York, are already founding members of the Circle of Giving’s emerging leadership group.
For Shira and Howard, “the leadership of Rabbi Adler and Rabbi Weiner is marked by integrity to Torah values infused with warmth.”
The Formans were proud to share what makes Rinat particularly special to them: “When we joined Rinat, we knew almost no one. From the first week we arrived, the welcoming committee worked to make sure that every weekend we were invited out for Shabbat lunch. Many of those couples that invited us when we were strangers are now our closest friends.”
Please join Congregation Rinat Yisrael for its 32nd annual dinner, which will take place at Congregation Keter Torah, on Saturday night, February 22. To attend the dinner or to donate in honor of the attendees, please visit www.Rinat.org/Dinner.