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A Message From KTI Co-President Joanie Rosenbaum

“Everyone has a story”

We have all come together and formed a community here at KTI, and have travelled different paths along the way. Here is my story:

I grew up in the middle of Nassau County, Long Island and our family belonged to a reform synagogue. My family had strong cultural ties to Judaism, but we were not observant and I had limited formal Jewish education. Of course, I had many Jewish friends, took part in Passover Seders, Chanukah celebrations and attended high holiday services and the B’nai Mitzvot of numerous friends–but I was unaware of the larger meaning of these rituals.

My informal Jewish education began when I married my husband Norm in 1989. He grew up in a Kosher and observant conservative home. I willingly accepted these traditions and made them my own, although I’ll confess managing two sets of dishes took some practice. As young Manhattanites, we sent our children to Jewish nursery schools; my daughter Melissa attended a Hebrew day school and Norm and Melissa attended Shabbat services regularly. We had weekly Shabbat dinners and socialized with both conservative and modern orthodox Jews. Gradually, I gained a sense of living a Jewish life; it became comfortable and enjoyable.

After we moved to Rye Brook and joined KTI, I came to realize that I wanted more. It wasn’t enough to drive the kids to Hebrew School, attend holiday celebrations and programs and simply be an observer during the services. In 2004 I decided to learn how to read Hebrew and attended the wonderful classes offered at KTI. Upon realizing that I could actually do this, I had the good fortune of joining 4 other KTI women in a B’nai Mitzvah class conducted by Rabbi Alpert. We formed a magnificent bond during our course of study over 2 years. It was during this time that I got my first exposure to what our rich heritage and traditions have to offer. I became a Bat Mitzvah in 2007, a little over a year after our daughter Melissa. I read from the Torah and led part of the Shabbat morning service. Our son Daniel became a Bar Mitzvah in 2010. It is a source of great pride to me, that I was able in a small way to share their experience through my own b’nai mitzvah here at KTI.

I am a CPA and spent many years as a full-time working mom. When I decided to become a ―stay at home‖ mom, it afforded me the opportunity to become more involved in KTI life. The need for volunteers and the sense of community lured me here and over time I became part of something that has had great personal meaning to me -- supporting a wonderful institution that offers so much to our members and the larger Rye Brook and Port Chester communities each and every day. Our community takes great comfort knowing that KTI is here to support us in so many ways. When you need us, KTI is here. On our almost daily drives up or down King Street through just a brief glance, we witness KTI and all it represents—KTI is here and is a constant in our lives. All of us should take great pride in this, as we have each played a part through our membership, volunteering and tzedakah.

I have met and become friends with so many wonderful people here at KTI. My role started gradually, helping out at many of our events – dinners, Purim carnivals, fundraisers and then taking on more of a leading role for these events. From 2004-2008, I was President of the Sisterhood. Nothing gave me more satisfaction than running a successful tag sale; gathering in the KTI kitchen to learn how to bake challah, helping facilitate a Sisterhood Shabbat service and, most important, nurturing the stability and growth of KTI.

Since 2004, I have had the honor of being a member of KTI’s Board of Directors.
I became Chair of the Religious School Board from 2008-2011 and worked with the Board and our Hebrew School staff to maintain the quality and richness cultivated in our Hebrew School over many years. While always challenging, it was rewarding to have played a small role in supporting our Hebrew School, which is vital to our community and our children’s future.

I was then asked to join the Executive Committee and became Secretary. This year I was honored when Larry approached me to assume the role of his co-president. I am very excited about my new role--working with all of you this coming year and adding another chapter to my story.

I want to personally thank Larry for all the time and energy he puts into KTI. His dedication and devotion are unmatched.

It is wonderful to take part in supporting KTI and working with our dedicated clergy, staff, leaders and volunteers. Through my involvement, I have achieved personal milestones and a new sense of Jewish spirit and identity. I hope and encourage each of you to become more involved at KTI this year. The unique talents, dedication and spirit of our volunteers have amazed me. You can start gradually, as I did, or jump right in to take on a larger role. I promise that you and ―your story‖ will be enriched by your efforts in whatever capacity, and I know KTI will be as well.

Joanie Rosenbaum, KTI Co-President