Sign In Forgot Password

A Special High Holy Day Message and Appeal from President, Mark Wolfheimer

Text of Mark's Speech: 

5783-2022 Message from our President- Mark Wolfheimer

L’Shanah Tovah

Standing in front of you today is truly a simcha for my family and me.  I recall that for many years, I would wake up on the High Holidays and get ready to go to services extra early to help with the parking. My parents, Sandy and Matt Bennett would be ready to go with me, so that they could reserve their seats and spend the next hour or so schmoozing with their friends that they may not have seen or spoken with for several weeks or months.  They would catch up on what was happening with all their friends' families and speak…boast about their own family.  While they were socializing, I would be out on Ridge Pike waiving families into the parking lot, on the receiving end of endless smiles and waves, even though some of the families have never met me in person.  It is that face-to-face connection that truly makes me whole. After the last few years, I’ve learned to never take for granted the importance of community and the face-to-face interactions that have for so long been an integral part of my connection to Or Ami. I feel truly blessed to see so many of you in person here today.

 Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher has been quoted as saying, “The only thing constant is change.”

 Let’s look at last year…a year of constant change—from two months before the High Holidays, when I was asked to share the presidents’ role with Larry Paul, to this year as I stand before you as the sole president. I lost my job in 2021 and was unemployed for a bit.  But in 2022, with the support and connections I received from many of my congregation Or Ami family, I was able to find another position and I am gainfully employed. 

Our temple has also been blessed with some positive changes.  With the help of Bill Koelewyn, a complete teardown and rebuild of our kitchen occurred earlier this year. The kitchen cabinets were over 50 years old, and the floor might have been the original flooring. We redesigned our sanctuary and the lobby to promote a closeness and bring a new look for our future. Due to some “Supply Chain Issues” we still have some outstanding punch list items that will be addressed after the high holy days. A special thank you to the transforming our tomorrow committee for raising the funds and keeping the progress moving forward! Thank you to everyone who made a contribution to make the transition a reality.

Or Ami was fortunate to hire a new Executive Director, Scott Allen who has been supporting us in many great ways. Scott upgraded our aging phone and computer systems to support our future needs. He and Lynda work tirelessly to make an office that can adapt to the many changes and challenges that we face as we come out of the Pandemic.  

Our Early Childhood Education Center is thriving with the leadership of Michelle Ruder at the helm.  We came through the pandemic with many trials and tribulations, but even through the masking of the children, we could see the smiles on their faces as they grew and learned together.   This year is no different.  Michelle has a growing student population, and we are happy to say that we are now mask optional, and we can see the beaming faces of our students.  Our teachers and Michelle came to work every day and put in many extra hours to keep our children safe and continue to be instrumental in their development. Many thanks to all the ECEC employees.

Our Religious School has also made some incredible advances in the past year. Under the leadership of Stef Bock and her team of dedicated teachers, they have inspired our youth to enjoy attending RS and the metrics show how much they are learning.  This year, we have a GAN class of 24 students, which is evidence that our congregation is a great place for our youth to learn, share, and grow together.   Thank you, Stef and team, for finding ways to keep our children engaged.

Our Lay Leadership continues to listen to our community and respond in kind by making every effort to bring back events and opportunities that will continue to develop and enhance our Jewish community.  We started the year off with a wonderful Or Ami Fest that brought out families and friends who joined together to sing with Cantor and his band.  We watched as our children sang karaoke, enjoyed a magic show, had their faces painted, and ate delicious food; all the while laughing, smiling, and having a wonderful time.  Thank you to the Lay Leadership for all the hours you contribute to help COA be the best place for our community.

Rabbi & Cantor, it goes without saying that you have both endured endless changes over the last year or two.  Leading services and singing to an empty sanctuary; using Zoom, Facebook, and now YouTube to communicate with our congregation and the Jewish community.  Supporting our Shiva’s, Baby Naming’s, brit milahs, weddings, celebrations, and difficult situations via zoom, in person, or just reaching out over the phone.  All the time, continuing to lead and educate our youth, young adults, and adults through Torah study, music education, b’nai mitzvah training, and emotional support.  Thank you both for all you do every day.

As the landscape of our country and the world constantly changes, I have complete faith that our temple, … Congregation Or Ami will continue to adapt to those changes. 

As a leader of the congregation, I wondered what I wanted our main goal to be this year. Maybe we want to have a record turnout for high holidays, or maybe we want to focus on upgrading and painting and repairing  the remaining areas of the temple; Or maybe we should focus on membership and try to influence as many members as possible to join COA; or maybe we want to focus our efforts on fundraising events to help us try to build a surplus of money to have for programming and unforeseen emergencies. Or maybe the most important thing to focus on is to make sure that anyone that enters our congregation does not leave without having a meaningful experience.  I eventually came to the realization that the most important goal for my presidency is to create an atmosphere where our lay leadership can forge a path for our Congregation to always be here for you. We are on our way as we develop future leaders to continue this effort from my generation to the next generation.    L'dor v'dor,   My goal is to set a path forward for future generations to come here and enjoy the same community and family that I feel when I enter this building.

But In order to do this, we need your financial support.

We are grateful to our members who pay dues, but the reality is that they are not enough to cover the cost of operating in this very high-cost economy.

Your pledge enables our visionary clergy and lay leaders to dream in new ways – to experiment beyond business as usual, to ensure we can innovate to meet the evolving needs of our community. Most importantly, your pledge today helps us to uphold the promise that has always been a cornerstone of our community: No family will ever be turned away from Congregation Or Ami for lack of means.

Please take out your envelopes, look at the list of giving opportunities, and choose the one that seems right for you. And then, if I may dare ask, push through and pledge at one level above. Challenge yourself to really do all that you can do. You can even turn down multiple tabs, we’ll add them up.

On behalf of your Or Ami community, I hope you will contribute fully within your means. Truly, we are grateful.

A member of the board will be coming up and down the isles to pick up your envelope after my talk.

Let me end by sharing a prayer with you, 

May this be a year of aches and pains:

May your feet hurt from dancing at so many simchas

May your arms ache from carrying many babies and lending support to our elders

May your cheeks be sore from smiling too wide

 May your palms swell from clapping with nachas

May your back tire from schlepping bags, packages, and deliveries to help a friend

May your eyes sting from tears of sadness and joy

May your heart hurt with those who hurt

 May your head spin from the joy of seeing the answer to all your prayers.

L’shanah tovah!



Welcome to
Congregation Or Ami


Congregation Or Ami is a dynamic Reform synagogue and the center of Jewish life in the Lafayette Hill area. We foster meaningful experiences through life-long education, spiritual worship, social action, and acts of loving kindness. We believe in transforming our tomorrow by inspiring and supporting an inclusive and diverse congregation. With links to our past and an imaginative and contemporary eye towards the future, we practice Judaism filled with compassion, love, music and joy. Our connected congregation shines an innovative light on our Jewish traditions as we support each other through life’s most significant moments.

High Holy Days with Rabbi and Cantor 2022 / 5783 LIVE

Join Us For Services

In Person (when possible) or Virtually

Join Service

Virtually only

Join Study

                        Or T'Shuvah                                      A Machzor for the High Holy

Click Link Below to access Machzor and Yizkor Books: 

Or T'Shuvah - Light Of Repentance - Machzor


Rabbi Glenn Ettman Welcomes You

Welcome to Or Ami! In whatever form or fashion, you have come to this community, I welcome you with open arms, a listening ear, and a welcoming spirit. I have heard many times recently that people crave community. Or Ami is committed to creating community. It has been our mission for the past 75 years and will continue to be as we move forward.

Read Full Letter

Sat, November 26 2022 2 Kislev 5783