President’s Letter ~ January 2020/Tevet 5780
This letter is one of a series of monthly notes written to the KI community on congregational topics that pique my interest. Previous ones by me and my predecessor, David Williams, can be read here: President’s letters page. Please let me know what you think and/or what topics interest you by emailing me at



New Year, Timeless Wisdom

Felix Rohatyn, the great investment banker, public servant, and diplomat who helped engineer New York City’s financial rescue wrote: “the only permanent wealth is what you carry around in your head.”

One of the many things I value in the KI Community is its emphasis on learning. One aspect of that commitment is KI’s Library of Gratitude. Every year, KI gives each member a book that the community can gather around and study together. Past books have included Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Not in God’s Name, Daniel Gordis’s book Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, and Rabbi Irving Greenberg’s Sage Advice: Pirkei Avot. This year we focus on Pamela Greenberg’s The Complete Psalms, kicking off study with a Community Brunch on Sunday morning, January 12th, 2020 at 11 AM in U13. You can RSVP here: KI Community Brunch. Please join us for spiritual and physical nourishment!

Speaking of learning, how about celebrating 25 year’s worth?  Rabbi William Hamilton and Rabbi David Starr will be honored in New York on January 26th by the Jewish Theological Seminary with honorary Doctorate of Divinity degrees. And for Rabbi Starr, this adds to his collection of Phds. We are fortunate to have such erudite and knowledgeable individuals guiding and teaching us.

While NY may be a bit too far to travel, we can experience Rabbi Starr’s inquisitive mind as he leads a discussion with author Mikhal Dekel on Mikhal’s new book Tehran Children on Tuesday, January 16th, 2020 at 7:30 PM. “Tehran Children” is the name used to refer to a group of Polish Jewish children, mainly orphans, who escaped the Nazi occupation of Poland. This group of children found temporary refuge in orphanages and shelters in the Soviet Union, and was later evacuated with several hundred adults to Tehran, Iran, before finally reaching Palestine in 1943. Mikhal personalizes this larger drama writing about her own family’s personal experience of this exodus. The Forward reviews it here: Tehran Children Book Review.



Lastly, and as much as I enjoy learning, I also appreciate having a good time. On March 28, 2020, KI will hold its annual Gala. It is a wonderful evening; this year even more so as we honor Rabbi Hamilton’s 25th year of leading our community. Please save the date and join us for fun, festivities and the company of KI friends.


Gordon Bennett
President, Kehillath Israel