what members say about cti...
Dear Rabbi & Cantor,
I wanted to somehow put into words how grateful Dan and I are for all that you have done, not only for Matthew, but for our whole family. But, every time I try to write something...I realize that I cannot put this into words, because how I feel completely transcends words. So, that being said, please bear with me as I try to share our gratitude.
When we joined CTI almost two years ago, I was anxious that I was not "Jewish" enough for a conservative temple. In my eyes, one needed to grow up in a traditional family, attend services on a regular basis, speak Hebrew, and have a Bat Mitzvah to belong to a Jewish community. But, of course from day one, everyone welcomed us with open arms, and as time went on I began not only to learn, but to believe that these were not the things that makes one "Jewish." And every time I would say to one of you, "I am not that Jewish," you would quickly correct me and tell me that because I have a good heart, I was the epitome of a Jew. And for that, I will always be grateful, for teaching me that I am Jewish enough just as I am.
As Matthew's Bar Mitzvah grew closer, my fears began to surface again. Because I didn't have a traditional family to share in the celebration, or speak Hebrew, or have had a Bat Mitzvah, I was not "Jewish" enough to play a meaningful part in his Bar Mitzvah. And once again, you put my fears to rest. You helped teach Dan and myself the prayers, and reassured us that being up on the Bimah was not about perfection or performance, but about sharing in the blessing of our son and his becoming an adult in the Jewish community. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Now the day has come and gone, and Dan and I have spent many hours reflecting. I cannot tell you how we will be forever grateful for the incredibly loving and meaningful experience that you gave to our entire family. You managed to make Emma feel comfortable and at ease, which is virtually impossible for a fifteen-year-old! We could not have been prouder of Matthew. We saw a maturity in him that we had not seen before. Obviously he worked hard, and while it was clear that you both held him to high standards, it was also clear that this was not about being perfect, but about being present and connected.
Every single person at the service, who was not a CTI member, told us that they had never seen anything like it. The Bar Mitzvah was one of the best services they had been to. And while Matty certainly played a part in that, you created an atmosphere that was relaxed, inclusive and fun. And because you both create a space where no one feels judged, Matthew was given room to be himself, everyone was given room to be themselves. And when people are given room to be themselves without judgment, they can honestly be connected and present. This is truly the heart of who Dan and I are and what we hope to pass onto our children. So, we will forever be grateful for making Matthew's Bar Mitzvah touch people in a way that truly reflects what being Jewish means to us - being able to be connected and present with ourselves and other human beings with no judgment.
The whole experience has been tremendously profound for us, and each day we seem to come up with new ways that it impacted us. I could go on and on, but as I said, these feelings transcend words, so I can only hope that you can feel my gratitude behind my words.
I know that I speak for Dan as well, when I say that we feel very lucky and blessed that we landed at CTI. We feel very grateful for all that you have brought into our lives. And we are deeply moved by Matthew's Bar Mitzvah and how it has touched us, and resonated with others.
Thank you so very much.
All my love,
CTI Celebrates Shabbat in Nature
I am still smiling from yesterday's experience. It was wonderful to be there with all of you and experience the confluence of Shabbat, friendship and the beauty of the outdoors. With the help of the Cantor's leadership, we were able to take the time to appreciate, reflect and pray. We are so fortunate that Cantor Gustavo had the opportunity, and took the time, to learn how to conduct such a meaningful experience. Many of you commented on his warm voice and soothing manner, which set the tone for a Shabbat of reflection and which made the Shema, and the other prayers, even more meaningful. - Phyllis Spector
What a lovely way to celebrate Shabbat and share a wonderful morning with friends. Very often, we aren't able to slow down and "just be." I loved having the opportunity to do just that. The reflective morning brought me peace, memories and of course some sadness, as I approach the first anniversary of my dad's passing. Sitting on the rock at the beach was soothing and comforting, being surrounded by nature and friends. Sharing this time with my husband, Steven, was very special. - Caryn Farber
Celebrating Shabbat, 16 of us walked slowly, through God's green sanctuary at Garvies Point. At first, we were chatty, and our voices could be heard above the birds. But gradually, as we became infused with the surrounding beauty of the sights, sounds and sweet aromas, we started to relax and grow quieter. Slowly progressing through the area, we stopped frequently in enchanting spots where the Cantor's wise counsel guided us in thanking God for our blessings, singing a comforting prayer, saying the Shema and simply being quiet in the moment. as one who does not find it easy to remain in the present, I was gratified to find myself letting go of the past and worries about the future. I truly was in the present. My soul was soothed, my spirit lifted. - Phyllis Abrams
Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful service! I walked away feeling relaxed, mellow and spiritual. I believe that God is in nature and I was able to experience that today. The music, the prayers, the mediation and the magnificence of nature made me feel quiet, centered and elevated. I want to create this feeling for myself every day. How I wonder! Well, this is a new goal. For so long I felt I was not spiritual, but now I realize I did not know the path. The morning was well planned, with the beautiful song which I carried with me on the walk and then the walk climaxed as I viewed the water from the steps for the first time. Wow! What a perfect morning. I look forward to doing it soon again. Thank you for helping me on my spiritual journey. Though you might not see me that often, I am thrilled to be a member of CTI and I feel blessed to know both of you! Thank you! - Robbie Stillerman
I felt so blessed to be able to experience your lovely meditative Shabbat service at Garvies Point. It was an innovative and effective way to connect with nature and Judaism. What a beautiful way to experience Shabbat. Thank you!! - Barbara and Jay Baron
I'm originally from New York City and I was raised with a Reform approach towards Judaism at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. I was my intention to raise my child as a reform Jew. I joined a reform congregation which subscribed to my comfort level of Judaism. Surprisingly, the experience did not feel familiar or comfortable for me at all. It occurred to me that what I was seeking was a place of spiritual comfort as well as a religious experience. I moved on to seek a place I felt welcome and connected. I found that place at Congregation Tifereth Israel. I discovered this temple after being invited to a few very nice family programs that my child enjoyed. Most events were held at the beach or in a park or on the beautiful grounds of the Temple.
At one event, I began a conversation with the Cantor, Gustavo Gitlin. A happy and engaging man who brings music and kindness to all that are lucky enough to meet him. At another family event, I met Rabbi Irwin Huberman, an approachable Rabbi who engages both children and adults in lively and thoughtful discussion. He connects people through conversation, music, community and spirituality.
My family’s experiences at this temple have been wonderful. They stood by my side and guided me through the loss and burial of my Mother-in-law, the cantor taught my son to ride a bike, they hired an extra teacher just for my young child who needed support during Hebrew school, they provided outreach to the community at large and I became involved in giving back to the community, they counseled me and offered unlimited support during my divorce, they offered an open door of consistent comfort, counsel and kindness. This is what religion should provide people with wherever they are on their spiritual journey...a sanctuary.
Congregation Tifereth Israel is a place where your religious and spiritual needs are always met.
Dear Rabbi Irwin and Cantor Gustavo,
CTI has been my family's synagogue for five generations and although the congregation has existed continuously longer than any other on Long Island, and has welcomed numerous clergy from various backgrounds, who would have thought that an Argentinian and a Canadian would come to our traditional congregation, embrace its history and elevate it with such innovation and open-mindededness? Your leadership of the congregation, devotion to helping the unfortunate, and involvement in Glen Cove's secular and religious networks are remarkable. Over the last decade, as a team, you have solidified CTI's place in the world of charity and community. You have made CTI a place of warmth, caring and learning for my 96 year old mother as well as for my school age grandchildren. It is clear that you were meant to do the work you have chosen. From generation to generation (l'dor v'dor) my family and I thank you for all that you do.
Thank you, Ellen for your kind words...what is most gratifying about this is that it comes from the family with the longest continuous history at CTI....The Cantor and I have been blessed with a wonderful community which empowers us to do the work we do...We give thanks every day for the opportunity to serve you, your family and this blessed community...As the Cantor said, may we continue to grow from strength to strength...
Wow! Thanks Ellen for your beautiful words... It has been an honor and a blessing to serve Congregation Tifereth Israel all these years... continuously building this Kehillah kdoshah (holy congregation) together!
May we go from strength to strength!!
Dear Rabbi & Cantor,
Barb and I want to thank you so much for all you have done to make the baby naming ceremony and Shabbat Service a truly memorable event that we will cherish in our hearts foreber.
Miriam Rachel (Melanie Rose) and our family are so fortunate to have you both provide such wonderful spiritual guidence and inspiration to our lives.
With joy and sincere appreciation for all you have done and all you do.
Jay and Barbara Baron and Family
Dear Cantor Gustavo,
I must convey to you personally, what a very special meeting today was for me. It is so apparent how much time, effort and thought that you have put into out Spiritual Circle meetings and I am just moved to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is not surprising how many of us feel that way and I would like to thank you personally for that because when many people appreciate the same thing, the benefits are exponential for all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Respectfully & joyously,
It was wonderful to meet you and other members of CTI last week. The Shabbat Nature Walk at Garvies Point Preserve that you led was something I will always remember. It was a wonderful way to end the week – and it also served as a terrific jumping off point to begin the new week. You have a gift – you created a very warm and welcoming environment that enabled all of us to enjoy a very special Shabbat. Thank you for a beautiful experience. It was perfect.
With much appreciation,
Hi Cantor Gustavo,
I just want to say how much I enjoyed service during Rosh Hashanah. It was the highlight of my day! As I laid my hands over the Torah, I was surprised to feel my hands tremble. I was stunned. Then I placed my hands down at my side. Later, I replaced my hands over the Torah, thinking it would not happen again. Much to my amazement, the trembling reoccured.
WOW, I guess they are great books, and I would like to know more.
Thank you for the experience,
Dear Rabbi and Cantor,
Thank you so much for making Emily's Bat Mitzvah an unforgettable experience for her and our entire family. The explanations, and the interaction with the children was wonderful, and your heartfelt spirituality was clearly shared by everyone in the room. My friends and family, both Jewish and non Jewish, have not stopped telling us how much they enjoyed the service. One of my friends, in an intermarriage, said she wants to come to the Friday night musical Shabbat. Another Sea Cliff Christian friend said the service made her want to convert. Kevin's family, who was in from Michigan, couldnt get over what an inclusive and inspiring service it was. It was their first time in a Synagogue. Again, thank you both for all that you do.
Tammy & Kevin