“What Happens When You Say Yes?”

Michael Hauptman’s remarks upon receiving the Hineni Bezalel Award in May 2013:

There are so many talented, hard-working people in this congregation who give so much of their time and energy, that for me to be singled out for this award is as baffling as it is appreciated. Thank you so much.
Last week, I was up in Massachusetts where we are working on a feasibility study for two Reform congregations who are merging.  One congregation, once 1200 members and now 300, will be selling their historic building and moving into the other congregation’s much smaller building.  We were given a tour of the synagogue by the rabbi, who led us through empty corridors, unlocking empty classrooms and offices in a once beautiful building that hadn’t seen a coat of paint in decades.
Next month we’re starting a project to renovate a JCC in order for two dwindling congregations, one Conservative and one Reform, to move into the renovated facility and sell their two buildings which they can no longer fill.
And in July, a Reform congregation in New Jersey that we’ve been working with for years, will be breaking ground for their new 9000 square foot synagogue after selling their 25,000 square foot building a mile away.
Four months from now, Rodeph Shalom will be breaking ground on our new project; not because we’ve lost members and need to move into a smaller space, but because we’ve run out of room in our magnificent historic building, and we’re bursting at the seams.  When our new addition and renovation is completed, we will have more classrooms for our Mercaz Limud and our Early Learning Center; we will have more Adult Education space and more space for social events; there will be more gallery space for our museum; and our building will be safer and fully accessible.
I have learned a lot working on this project. Now I know what the client talks about after the architect leaves the room.  Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this historic process.  I am very grateful.
When Susan Klehr was president, she once asked me to do something I thought was well beyond my skill set.  I asked her why she was asking me.  Her answer was:  “because you haven’t learned how to say no yet.”  Well, I still haven’t really learned how to say no, but I have learned how rewarding it is to say yes.
-Mike Hauptman

About the Award: Bezalel was the chief architect and artisan of the “Mishkan,” the sacred tabernacle of the Israelites in the Torah.  The Torah said that Bezalel was endowed with the spirit of God in wisdom, understanding and knowledge in all manner of workmanship.  Michael Hauptman has been a worthy inheritor or Bezalel’s spirit and skill in the way he has guided and inspired our congregation’s efforts to design a beautiful and meaningful renovation and addition to our sacred synagogue building.