A Message from our President


Jeffrey Kigner

As our world returns to normal, or more likely a “new normal,” it is fair to ask ourselves how have we changed as individuals?  We’re not the same people that we were one year ago. We can ask that same question of our broader society.  However, as members of CIS it is important to ask how have we have changed as a community.  Secondarily, of those changes, what do we want to carry with us going forward, and what aspects of pre-healthcare crises do we want to work hard at returning to?  
For instance, one of the characteristics of our Springfield community that I have always treasured is the warmth and closeness of our relationships. For over a year now, this has been a challenge.  It has been heartwarming to observe how much of an effort all of you have made to maintain the emotional and physical closeness.  The Zooming, the WhatsApp groups, the telephone calls, the Shabbat walks have all been satisfying. However, over an extended period, they are just not enough.  We miss the kiddushes, face-to-face shiurim and youth and member activities. I particularly miss sharing Shabbat lunches together, and the opportunity they provide us to become closer to one another. In addition to getting together with old friends, Alisa and I have always enjoyed getting acquainted with the new families joining our community.  It is disorienting knowing there are many new families we have met only superficially, through introductions at Shul, delivering new member gifts, taking a Shabbat walk, or as participants in a Zoom call. Yet these are people with whom we will G-d willing share so much, including life cycle events such as britot, b’nei and b’not mitzvah, weddings and other smachot. May I suggest, when we consider what it means to return to normal, that we should focus on how we interacted pre-March of 2020, and work diligently to return to how well we related as a community. 
With this on our minds, there are no two people who are more appropriate to recognize in 2021 as our Guests of Honor than Rick Covkin and Diane Osen Covkin, who as a team and individuals, have worked so hard at keeping us a cohesive and close-knit community, while serving HaShem. Rick has been responsible for making many of us to feel safe and welcome at Shul, thanks to the seating plans he has devised and his frequent, humorous outreach to members over the past year. Diane has been no less active in helping with our Shul's messaging to members, as well as other communal enterprises, including Rei'ach HaSadeh. Due to their impact, dillgence and leadership, Rick and Diane will help our CIS community return to our long-established roots. 

Speaking of our roots, our Aishet Chayil Honoree, Marilyn Bielory is among those most responsible for helping to create the welcoming community that is CIS today. Over many decades, Marilyn has hosted numerous members' families and other visitors at her home, connecting new members with longstanding members for a Shabbat meal or for a Seder, tirelessly contributing in any and every way to inspire others. To be fair, I could write an entire letter just thanking Marilyn for what she means to the community. 

Our Young Leadership Awardees are Debbie and Avi Shteingart. As president, I have a firsthand view of Avi and Debbie’s leadership and contributions. Of course, Debbie’s DNA has Springfield in it; she is one of the longest standing members of the Shul today. Debbie, who co-chairs the Membership Committee with Ariella Bloom, has miraculously continued our growth through the pandemic, introducing and integrating our new families. Avi, together with his Youth Committee Co-chair Chana Horowitz, has planned successful programming under difficult conditions, with an eye on all that we can provide to our community’s youth in the future.

Adam Greiss is the recipient of the Edward Konigsberg Memorial Award. His love for tefillah, and his desire to understand the intricacies of the meaning behind the words, sets an example for us all.  His friendship, and his willingness to contribute his top-of-his-profession creative talents when needed by the Shul, mean so much to our community.

We are proud of Eva Gidalowitz for receiving the Joseph Tammam Memorial Youth Community Scholarship Award. We have no doubt she will continue her accomplishments coming from a family whose Lev Tov is paramount.

Lastly, as the Kehillah we are today, and the Kehillah we will be in the future, we are deeply grateful to our Rav, Rabbi Chaim Marcus, and Rebbezin Lea.  What they mean to the community, and to each of us individually, is immeasurable.  

Mazel Tov to all our honorees,

Jeff Kigner
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