Followers

Sunday, July 6, 2014

REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN; INA GLASBERG OF NEEDHAM


                                                                   Ina Glasberg



Ina, an eshet hayyil (a “woman of valor”), is married to a wonderful and kind man, Ron. She is a devoted wife, a beloved mother and grandmother. After her presidency, she became a national board member of the Union for Reform Judaism, as well as taking on major roles in many of the social and religious associations of the greater Boston area.

Ina is a presence in our temple. She has functioned in many capacities as a temple leader. She knows how to deal with people with kindness, yet without ignoring the rules and regulations that move the institution.  You cannot get mad at Ina because of the gentle way in which she says things, and because you know she means well and she is right. When Ina chaired a committee, it included more people than necessary, because she wanted to involve temple members in congregational functions as a learning tool.

I was fortunate to be a beneficiary of her wisdom and kindness. In 1991, during her presidency, Ines and I took a three-month Sabbatical in Israel. This was during the Gulf War with Iraq when Saddam Hussein was launching his rockets into Israel. Securely living in Jerusalem, I remember seeing the Scud missiles flying over our heads in the direction of Tel Aviv. Ina was beside herself. She kept calling us making sure we were safe and gently implying that we return. We assured her that we were safe, based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein would not be foolish enough to bomb Jerusalem and accidentally destroy the sacred Muslim shrines.

Presidents and rabbis meet regularly to discuss temple matters and strategies to achieve the goals of the synagogue. It is during these private meetings that Ina could tell me, in a very subtle way, the things that I either overlooked or ignored. She did that out of love and concern for my family and me, and I responded in kind. Ever since, I believe that every Rabbi deserves an Ina, and I was blessed to have her as a dear friend, for which I am eternally grateful.  

Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D.
Rabbi Emeritus,
Temple Beth Shalom, MA
 July 6, 2014
 





Thursday, June 12, 2014

JAI ANGUITA OF BARCELONA



REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN: 



 


JAI ANGUITA OF BARCELONA 


For the last few years, every summer, my wife, Ines, and I went to Barcelona, Spain, spending from two weeks to a month, in order to help out a small but slowly growing progressive Jewish congregation called Bet Shalom, led by a hardworking leader named Jai [i]Anguita, who is a Jew-by-choice and a lawyer by profession. There are two liberal congregations in Barcelona: Atid and Bet Shalom. Both are affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Jai was a member of Atid but left in order to establish Bet Shalom.


Though I am retired from the congregational rabbinate and worked with a dozen of wonderful synagogue presidents in the past, I have rarely interacted with someone as charismatic as Jai. He leads Bet Shalom with his sometimes unorthodox style. Along with his partner, Adele, he identifies good workers for the temple, trains them, and gives them responsibilities. He is well connected, extremely focused on his goal and works tirelessly, along with a group of dedicated individuals, in order to advance the cause of liberal Judaism in Spain. 


In 2008 I discovered online that Bet Shalom was looking for a Rabbi to spend some time in Barcelona to lead services and coordinate the final stages of a conversion process to Judaism. I volunteered to help out. Jai invited me to come in and spend about a month in his beautiful city. The fact that I could speak Spanish was a great advantage to them. [See my blog posting on this synagogue, dated April 26, 2010). Since then, Bet Shalom has become affiliated with the European Union of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (located in London), moved from a garage-size synagogue to a larger location, set up a new web page (http://www.betshalom.cat/), and continues to offer regular Shabbat and festival services (every Friday night the service is followed by a pot-luck meal) as well as introduction to Judaism classes ably taught by Jai himself.  It is now looking for a full-time Rabbi to lead this 60-70 family congregation, with great potential for further growth.


Jai was not satisfied with setting up a synagogue in Barcelona, but extended his help to other emerging groups in Galicia, Seville, Madrid and other locations. Jai has become the undisputed leader of the progressive Jews in Spain today, and deserves to be supported by Jews all over the world. It has been my pleasure and honor to work with him, and will continue to do so as long as I can.


Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D.

Boston, Ma

June 12, 2014








[i] Pronounced as “chai” or, better “hai”, in Hebrew meaning, “life.”