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New Trustee Spotlight

New Trustee Spotlight

In the latest issue of the Voice, we introduced our new trustees with a Q & A. Read more about why these trustees accepted their nominations, what it’s like being a trustee during a pandemic, and how they hope to support the mission of Temple during their tenure.

Karen Koplon

Karen Koplon, Temple Israel Trustee

Why did you decide to accept your nomination to serve on the board of Temple Israel?

I accepted the nomination to serve on the board to get more involved and support a place that has meant so much to our family.

What do you hope to bring to your role?

As an attorney, I enjoy problem-solving and negotiating. Those skills involve an ability to listen and collaborate, which I think will translate well to being a good board member.

What’s your Temple Israel story?

My Temple Israel roots run deep. I’m a fourth-generation Temple member. I can remember starting Sunday school at the old Temple at Poplar and Montgomery. When I think of the main sanctuary at Temple, I remember where I would sit with my grandparents; I remember my confirmation, my sisters’ weddings, my own wedding, and my daughter’s bat mitzvah. For my family, from generation to generation, Temple is home.

How will you work to further the mission of Temple Israel, and how do you see yourself helping Temple build the spiritual endurance of our members, especially during this pandemic?

The clergy team at Temple has done an excellent job staying connected with the members through virtual services and programming during the pandemic. I see my role as supporting those efforts to whatever extent needed.

Cara Greenstein

Cara Greenstein, Temple Israel Trustee

What do you hope to bring to your role?

I hope to continue to represent the next generation of this congregational family and ensure we’re deepening and growing our connection to this truly one-of-a-kind community.

What’s your Temple Israel story?

Temple has been my second home since birth (and the pulse of my family) and remains ever-so. It’s been a gift to build upon a childhood at Temple (led by my Dad and fostered by family and close friends) and since then create my own identity and relationship with Temple that I cherish so much. My appreciation for Temple has deepened (even as only a 20-something!) — it has remained the constant anchor of mine and Alex’s lives communally, spiritually, and leadership development-wise. Being given the opportunity to establish and build both ConnecTI and Temple’s Crosstown space has been such a highlight during my latest chapter in Memphis — it was a beautiful experience to reinforce that Temple is so much more than a building or a service or a sermon.

You joined the board of trustees during a pandemic, and as a result, were invited to serve on the COVID-19 Fund Task Force. What has that been like?

While I’ve always known it, experiencing firsthand the generosity of our Temple family to support each other during such a trying time has been a gift.

What are some initiatives you have been especially interested in or fond of?

Music has always been the source and connection point for my spirituality and my Judaism, and I think Temple continues to set the bar in that category. I’m so excited that my lifelong friend Happie Hoffman will carry that forward for us!

Bob Dinkelspiel

Robert Dinkelspiel, Temple Israel Trustee

What’s your Temple Israel story?

I was raised and confirmed at Temple and married by Rabbi Wax at Poplar and Montgomery. All four of our children became Bar and Bat Mitzvah at Temple and my grandfather was the Executive Secretary.

How will you work to further the mission of Temple Israel, and how do you see yourself helping Temple build the spiritual endurance of our members, especially during this pandemic?

I want to see the needs of the membership and the institution to see how I might be able to help. There is a very long line of people who have served this institution. It is humbling to think I could do anything.

What are some initiatives you have been especially interested in or fond of?

Our TI Crosstown space. We need youth, and that is the gateway to that segment of Jews in Memphis.

Helen Gronauer

Helen Gronauer, Temple Israel Trustee

Why did you decide to accept your nomination to serve on the board of Temple Israel?

Temple Israel is very near and dear to my heart, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on its board. I consider it my home away from home, and the foundation of my family life. As a lifelong Memphian, Temple Israel’s enduring presence has played a pivotal role in my life, and I am excited to follow in the footsteps of my father, brother, and nephew by serving and supporting this institution.

How will you work to further the mission of Temple Israel, and how do you see yourself helping Temple build the spiritual endurance of our members, especially during this pandemic?

I believe it is important, now more than ever, to foster relationships and help the community as a whole in whatever way I’m needed. More specifically, I would love to make myself available to others during this time, whether that be by calling and checking in or by meeting with members to provide strength and encouragement.

What are some initiatives you have been especially interested in or fond of?

One of my favorite Temple Israel initiatives is Mitzvah Day. I am so proud that our temple led the way for other Jewish centers in the area to also adopt this special day and help bring further encouragement to those around us in need. I also love that Temple Israel offers something for everyone, no matter the age or station of life. We have sessions for loss, youth group, learning opportunities, and the list goes on and on.

Mary Kanowitz

Mary Kanowitz, Temple Israel Trustee

Why did you decide to accept your nomination to serve on the board of Temple Israel?

Why wouldn’t I!? It was truly a moment of reverence when I received the call regarding my nomination as a Trustee. Being able to support this vibrant and inspiring community is a true honor to me. I still consider our family “new” to the community after nine years and counting. I hope to bring a helpful voice in unison with those who have spent generations building this beautiful, one of a kind place.

What do you hope to bring to your role?

As a Jew by Choice, a transplant, and as a parent building a Jewish family, I look forward to learning from those who have spent many generations keeping Temple the strong and welcoming place that it is by bringing some of my outside perspective and personal experiences to the table. I also hope to be able to continue Temple Israel’s legacy and build on community engagement, particularly in social justice, but also by helping to continue nourishing the young family component in which we have found such wonderful connections. I also believe that the love of Temple and of Judaism often starts in the home. I am passionate about helping build the connection for each family that begins their journey in this incredibly warm and wonderful Jewish environment. 

What’s your Temple Israel story?

After moving to Memphis from Denver, Colorado nine years ago, and only knowing two people in the entire city, my husband Aaron and I made one of our first stops at Temple Israel. We immediately felt the warmth that shines at Temple Israel and we were completely overwhelmed with how wonderful and engaging this community truly is. As our family grew, we were fortunate enough to enroll our children at the BKL ELC for preschool. Our daughter Josephine and our son Ari are both BKL ELC alumni, Starboard through Kindergarten, even. This past school year, I was honored to take on the role of Temple Israel Preschool Parents (TIPPS) President. One of my other passions is social justice. Through Temple Israel, our family has been able to give back not only to our amazing Temple community but to the entire community at large.

You joined the board of trustees during a pandemic, and as a result, were invited to serve on the COVID-19 Fund Task Force. What has that been like?

Being able to focus on how we can help Temple Israel with the best of our abilities and with the wonderful generosity many of our members have been able to provide, gives me such hope. I am in awe at the helpers and am completely honored to be able to ensure that families can continue to receive the Jewish education that our children have had over these past few years, regardless of their job status and the fact that COVID-19 has changed our entire environment. The BKL-ELC continues to thrive and be that safe-place that is one of the lifelines of our entire congregation because of the COVID-19 Fund and its beyond generous supporters.

September 15, 2020 by Melinda Lejman
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