Change in Leadership

The simple headline would read Congregation Holds Annual Meeting on May 20th.  The usual activities ensued and usual reports provided.  The annual election of officers was held.  But a little deeper in the story is the fact that we have a new president for the first time in 12 years.

VP Rick and President Larry

You will recall that last year at the annual meeting, I notified the board that my 12th year as president would have to be my last. My duties as a borough councilman have taken away from the time that I can spend managing the shul.  And since January 3 this year, my time has become even further constrained as my peers elected me Borough Council President.  Fortunately, VP Larry Block offered to step up to the duties of shul president.  We are fortunate to have someone who has a long history of dedication to our congregation and is ready to take on more responsibility.  It is a big challenge and Larry has my full support and backing.

If you will allow me to reminisce just a bit… I actually did not ever expect to become shul president.  If you were around during the 90’s you will recall that Stan (our Nusi, may he rest in peace) was prepping me to take his place, which was not president.  Our president then was Dr. Zayne Wilk.  Zayne came from a family of leaders.  Zayne’s father was once shul president, as was his father’s father. I looked up to Zayne, who was not only a doctor, but a fellow Marine and a Vietnam veteran.  I expected him to be president for a long time.  Additionally, I was working out of town almost every week, and I didn’t view myself being able to take on the role of president.  But 1999 didn’t just bring the end of the millennium, it brought significant changes in our shul.  In February of ’99 Ike Sax, who led our religious services, was knocked down by a stroke.  In the spring, Zayne learned that he was losing his battle with cancer.  I was in the middle of changing jobs and would now be based full time in Pittsburgh. I remember vividly a moment in the back of the shul one Saturday morning after services.  Most everyone had already headed downstairs for Kiddush, and Zayne stopped me by the doors and said, “I understand that you have a new job and you’re going to be around a lot more”.  When I responded in the affirmative, he said, “Good, the shul is going to need you”.  He said it without emotion, the way one of my Marine officers would give me a new assignment.  I don’t mean to dwell on the Marine Corps piece of the story, but my experiences in the Marine Corps have affected everything I’ve done in my life since I was 17.  I can’t really separate out the Marine Corps part of any story from any part of my life.  When Zayne spoke to me that morning, for all of 30 seconds, he was my CO giving me my next assignment, and that was that.

Ike died in August that year, and Zayne in November.  We spent the winter mulling over the situation.  Then in April of 2000, a guy named Baumhammers would go on murderous spree killing 5 and wounding several others.  He took the time to stop in Carnegie and shoot out our shul windows before he continued on his planned murder route.  The next month at the shul annual meeting, I was elected president and Larry took full control of all religious services.  It has stayed that way for a full dozen years.  So, I guess we were due for a change. Thank God it was not prompted by tragedy this time.

I ask that you provide every support to Larry as he takes on these new responsibilities and the additional workload that comes with it. And understand that I’m not going away.  I will still be here, helping in whatever way I can, as my time permits.


Filed under News

9 Responses to Change in Leadership

  1. Bob Henderson

    Congratulations to both Rick on your election to the Borough Council President and to Larry for being President of the Schul!! You guys are great!! Bob

  2. I had no idea you had been president that long! Congratulations on your new assignment, and to Larry in his new position.

  3. Brenda Miller

    Mazel tov to the both of you.
    I have been away from Carnegie since my husband, Larry Miller, died in 1991.
    I am so happy that there still is a Carnegie Shule. My children were all educated there and had their Bar and Bat Mitzva’s there.
    Larry, keep the place going!

  4. Roselle Roth

    I have been kept up on the “goings on” in the Carnegie Shul which is near and dear to me as it was to my entire family for so very many years,
    I have admired all that you have done for the Carnegie Shul and was surprised to learn of the recent happenings in the Shul as well as the Carnegie Community. I have somewhat followed your first job in the Borough and was very surprised to learn of your present appointmment and wish you much luck and success as it’s leader. I hope your family is all well and send best regards to them and of course to you. as I know my dear Brother, of blessed memory, would wish you the same.
    I wish Larry fondest best wishes and much success as President of the wonderful Carnegie Shul.
    I shall always have beautiful memories of living in Carnegie and heartily enjoy attending the beautiful Shul.
    Best wishes to all

  5. paul ostfield

    congrats on our new change. working together is our goal

  6. Roger Wilk

    Rick and all the members of my beloved Ahavath Achim Synagogue,
    Nothing is forever. All of you should be so proud that through your efforts the synagogue has continued to be a viable part of the Jewish footprint in the South Hills area.
    Without the efforts of Rick, Zayne, Stanley, Ike, Larry, Izzy, and I could go on and on this could not have happened. Don’t forget all of the woman who I don’t know by name who were partners in this effort.
    I wish Larry and all of you success for another 100 years and hope that you will remember the Wilk family as ardent supporters of Ahavath Achim.
    Good Luck to all of you,
    Roger and Ronnie Wilk

  7. Terry Roth

    I know that my dad would have joined me in offering a hearty mazel tov to Rick for the honor of being elected president of borough council and a thank you for his years of devoted service to the the Carnegie shul. Mazel tov and best wishes, too, to Larry. Thank you all for keeping the shul alive.
    Terry Roth

  8. Maggie Forbes

    Rick, I know that the Shul has been in good hands for many years, and from reading your blog, understand that it far longer than the 12 years that you served as president.

    The Shul is so fortunate to have someone step up to take your place. Leadership matters! And I hope that Larry has already persauded you to continue your blog. You are a good writer, such a good story teller. You are keeping people connected. That is invaluable.

    Finally, thank you for all that you do for Carnegie. The borough is so fortunate to have a man of your commitment and wisdom.


  9. Sondra Greer

    Congratulations to both of you, Rick and Larry, for your new appointments. Carnegie has one of the best leading them through future development. Rick you have been an excellent President and leader of the Shul, and I especially loved your commentaries and stories. You have kept me informed although I am many miles away from Carnegie. I wish you the very best, and I do hope that I continue to see you during the High Holidays. Larry, you have so many talents that you becoming our President only assures me that our beloved Ahavath Achim will continue to exist and prosper. Love and best wishes to both of you.
    Sondra Greer

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