By Rabbi Shelton J. Donnell
When I first came to Temple Beth Sholom to begin my tenure as rabbi in July of 1991, little did I know that my first big challenge was waiting for me just a few short months away. After the initial honeymoon period and the heady and hectic experience of my first High Holy Days at my new congregation, we soon got word that our long time administrator, Doris Jacobson was moving on. Doris had been a stalwart of the congregation and had seen us through many difficult times. She mentored me through my first days at Beth Sholom and I had come to rely upon her for support and good counsel. The Temple Beth Sholom board, the staff, in fact the whole congregation asked in disbelief, how could we ever replace Doris? In fact, the answer was very near at hand.
Susie Amster was relatively new to our congregation. Soon after she arrived in Orange County, Susie was tapped for leadership and brought onto the TBS board. Before long, she was made Vice-President of Membership. Susie brought her dynamic personality, great organizational skills and love of Judaism to every task and challenge presented to her as a member of the TBS board. When the opening for temple administrator came up, Susie was ready to enter the professional world. There was just one drawback ― Susie had no experience in synagogue administration. Sure, she had worked with many administrators before and she certainly knew about Temple life, but that was always as a volunteer, but could she handle professional Jewish life? Untested and untried when it came to the intricacies of the day-to-day running of a congregation, was she a match for TBS? It was a gamble, both for the TBS board and for Susie. Fortunately for all of us, a visionary board and a confident Susie Amster saw the potential beyond the pitfalls and Susie became the new TBS adminstrator and the rest is “herstory.”
To our great pride and benefit, Susie Amster has developed into a nationally recognized leader in the field of synagogue management. She has served on the board and leadership of the National Association of Temple Administrators and has received awards for her innovative and outstanding contributions to the field. Temple Beth Sholom has grown and prospered in great measure as a result of her guidance, grace, and great personality, all of which have made Susie an invaluable part of the TBS family. For me, during my years as rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom, Susie was always a faithful support and source of good counsel. Above all, she was my cheerleader, and a constant source of encouragement and one of the main reasons why serving Temple Beth Sholom has always been such a source of blessing. Susie has always been a partner, working with her rabbis, lay leaders, staff and congregants to make Temple Beth Sholom the soul-filled place and warm spiritual home that it is.
Susie and her husband Bruce have raised their children Sharon and Adam, Lisa and Julie in the same spirit of community dedication and love of Judaism. In Proverbs 31, the Woman of Valor traditionally recited on Shabbat, in speaking of a talented and industrious woman it says that “Her children stand and bless her; her husband praises her.” They do for Susie, and they will along with the whole TBS family!
How wonderfully fitting it is that Temple Beth Sholom salutes Susie Amster on April 24th. The gala event will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will include dinner, dancing, a silent auction, cash raffle, wine raffle and more. Reservations can be made by contacting the Temple Beth Sholom office at 714-628-4600 or RSVP Online at http://www.tbsoc.com/fundraiser/rsvp.html. Join us in saluting Susie Amster.