The Big Move
Moving to a new city is never easy, but when you are empty nesters with no kids at home to help anchor you into the new community, it is especially difficult. We moved to Washington four and a half years ago, after having lived in the Wilmington, DE area for the prior 25 years. With Glenn’s “retirement “from his Wilmington job we decided to relocate back to a big city in the northeast. Glenn looked for a new job and ended up finding one he liked in Washington. And so we returned to the Dupont Circle area of DC where we had briefly lived when we were first married. That was so long ago, though, that we hardly knew anyone in town from those good old days. And so it was almost like moving to a completely new city.
Once we were settled in, we went shul “shopping” and immediately felt most at home at Temple Sinai. Despite being double in size, it felt as wonderfully haimish as our last synagogue. A little overwhelming at first…but it didn’t take long…
I soon found my new friends and family in TSWRJ, aka Sisterhood. I was welcomed with open arms—or rather, grabbed might be more accurate. I had practically just set foot in the door when I was asked to be on the Sisterhood Board. What a welcome! (Full disclosure: I was somewhat of a known entity since I was still on the WRJ Mid-Atlantic District Board.)
TSWRJ has been a warm and welcoming community, a web of togetherness. We all work together assisting, advising, and doing things to help support the Temple and the local community. My great teachers and co-chairs are now among my best friends. From learning the ropes, to running the annual High Holiday Food Drive, to planning Sisterhood’s Annual Meeting, to learning how to set up my computer to type the minutes of our meetings, help and friendship is always graciously provided every step of the way.
I am especially proud of my role in spearheading the High Holiday Food Drive. When we first joined the temple, I noticed that the food drive seemed to be running out of steam and was in need of revitalization. I made the mistake of raising this issue at my first TSWRJ Board meeting—next thing I knew, I was tasked with finding out what TSWRJ could do to help revive this vital effort. My meetings with Temple staff led to TSWRJ taking over the food drive, with me as chair, of course. It has been so gratifying to see that with lots of publicity and lots of member participation, the food drive has grown exponentially. We now donate literally tons of food to the Capital Area Food Bank each Yom Kippur, providing thousands of meals for our neighbors who are struggling with hunger.
Shortly after joining the temple, Michelle and I were invited to a Homes and Heart dinner. These dinners were hosted by a number of synagogue members in their homes as part of a fundraiser for Sinai House, which I learned was a transitional housing facility affiliated with the synagogue. I was impressed that the synagogue took so seriously its commitment to tikkun olam, and I was even more impressed with the number of congregants who took part in this wonderful event.
Subsequent to that dinner, I reached out to the president of Sinai House expressing my interest in learning more about it and what I could do to help. It was suggested that I attend the next board meeting, which I unfortunately had to miss. No problem. I was told to come to the next meeting, and, by the way, “we are about to elect new board members and we will put you on the board!”
I joined what couldn’t be a more enthusiastic, committed group of individuals. It is a diverse group with varied experiences and tenures with the synagogue but where all share a commitment to the mission of Sinai House: “Ending homelessness one family at a time.” Beyond attending board meetings, I continue to find plenty of opportunities to volunteer from working on the Sinai House 5k run to helping assemble desks for the Sinai House common area. Through Sinai House, I truly feel that I too am a part of the Temple Sinai community.
-Michelle and Glenn Engelmann