Click here for the speech given by TRT President, Tmima Grinvald on Erev Rosh Hashanah 5780 – September 29, 2019
Erev Tov and Good Evening,
Wonderful to see all of you on this eve. My Name is Tmima Grinvald and I’m honored to be here.
Tonight, I would like to share a few stories about me and my family not only to help you know me a bit better, but also to help you understand why I am taking this important leadership position as President of Temple Rodeph Torah. I’m excited about our journey and I also see what it would take for all of us to have a meaningful experience. I hope you’ll feel the same at the conclusion of my speech. Now, I’d like to ask you to close your eyes for a minute and imagine me as a young soldier many moons ago.
The sun was striking hard on our heads. We were already exhausted somewhere in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. But this was not a normal homeland trip that you’d be likely to take. The sky was clear, and you could see miles away. Every so often we stopped for a rest, took a sip of water from our canteens, and listened to one of our colleagues sharing a story about the historical events in the area. I was struggling to walk since the sole of my boot started to separate from the rest. But I didn’t let it stop me. I was in command of a cheerful platoon of cadets. Only five days before, I was on the back of a military command-car in a planning mission with a group of cadets like me. We each received a similar task: navigate a platoon through the mountains to our destination. We all got a chance to see our route from the back of that car. However, at that time I experienced serious back pains, so I laid down most of the ride, and only when we reached important points of the route, I was helped to sit up and take-in the view. Then, I was offered to skip that task, but, as you now know – I refused. I was determined to perform, and I trusted my leadership skills to take me through the ordeal.
As a daughter to holocaust survivors, I learned firsthand from both my parents that no challenge was too big or too difficult.
So, I lead my platoon through the difficult journey with laughter, joy of singing, and forging a bond that only made the challenge be remembered fondly. During my debrief, I was told by the Commander that they don’t recall seeing such a high level of morale on this rough terrain through many years of Officers’ course.
My parents met in Israel after the Holocaust.
After Auschwitz, Mom arrived with a youth group to one of the kibbutzim in the Haifa area, where she made new friends with young Jews who fled Europe. When Israel Independence War broke, she was in Tel Aviv. While the Egyptian bombers approached the city, the sirens caught them coming out of shelter. A bomb was dropped just a block away from where she was, with no time to go back to shelter. She fell and was covered in white dust. When the rescuers were amid triage, they considered her to be an old lady, who could wait awhile, till after they treat the younger and more urgent wounded. Mom survived… with only one arm, and scars from shrapnel all over her body.
Her European friends introduced her to my Dad, who happen to grow up in the same county in Czechoslovakia. My Dad’s journey through the Holocaust was full of heroic stories, which I would lovingly recount at a different time. He finally survived the years of plight paying a huge price. His two legs! After years of recovery in Europe he made Aliya to Israel in 1949.
My parents’ friends thought that maybe two maimed individuals could keep each other company, while understanding the difficulty of being disabled. And that is when the love story began. Despite family members’ appeals, Hinda decided to marry Eliezer after he told her:” You’ll be my legs and I’ll be your arm”.
The courage to continue the heritage; to build a family; to start something new was strong. They rose up to the task proving that:
- loving-kindness enriches our lives,
- perseverance brings results, and
- sense of renewal conquers fears of the unknown.
I was the youngest of three and we grew up as Israeli Jews connected to our traditions, our people, and our land. I was the first in generations to get a college degree and to become an officer. We celebrated Shabbat dinners to end a hectic week and reconnect as a family. Not once I had to leave class parties early and be back on time to light Shabbat candles and begin our special time. The joy of Jewish holidays was mixed with delicious meals my parents made. To this day, my brother and sister live in Israel with their families, and I can’t wait to share another delightful holiday together.
My immediate family: Eli, my husband; Nimrod and Zohar, my kids, are an integral part of my Jewish journey. With their support, we embrace Jewish values and do our best to make the world a better place. We enjoy travel, hiking in nature, and spending time with friends and family.
Eli and I moved to the U.S. in 1990 in pursuit of our MBA’s and overall international experience in the technology field. Nim was not even 3 years old. With no family around to support us, we worked hard, studied hard and pursued our dreams. It didn’t take long to understand that in order for our family to preserve Jewish life and values, we had to be proactive. In Israel, you send your kids to public school where they learn about Jewish holidays and historical references to our people. The Jewish holidays are integrated in your calendar, and you really don’t need to think about it. Here, we realized we needed to be affiliated to a Jewish Community – we needed to find Kehilah. And after many years of being members in other temples we joined TRT in 2011.
My parents are no longer with us, but the way they lived with dignity and respect to others and the values they taught me, persist in the world. They live forever through my decisions and actions.
When I left Israel, they were sad but supportive. If they knew I would be standing here today (and maybe they do…) they would probably say: it was worth it.
I hope what I shared about my upbringing in Israel and my years of service in the Israeli army allowed you to get a glimpse at my leadership foundation and understand why I’m standing before you tonight. I intend to bring my leadership strengths and passion for a thriving Jewish community to all of you. Now, my family story is woven into the story of your family and together we write the story of this amazing community.
I am looking forward to years of serving you and to the positive impact that we will collectively make for our children and our grandchildren as we ensure a future of Jewish continuity.
I believe words and actions define who a person is.
As Rosh Hashanah commences, each one of us is engaged with thoughts of renewal. We can begin reflecting on how this last year measured and how we can best expand our connection to this very special community and in our actions create a source of strength to each one of us personally and to all of us collectively.
Tomorrow, on Rosh Hashanah Day’s service, I will explore how our actions as a community could enrich us all.
May this year bring Mazel Tov, joy and meaning to you and your loved ones.