Kol Emeth Celebrates 7 Shining Lights from Its 30 Years
Nearly 200 people crowded into the Atlanta Marriott Northwest to recognize Jane Aronoff, Richard Brenner, Bob Ganz, Brad Kacher, Dave Mayer, Matthew Stone and David Strauss with the Avodah Award for Community Service.
“Avodah” is a Hebrew word referring to work in God’s name and commonly refers to community service and good deeds.
The seven past Kol Emeth presidents were celebrated not only for their vital leadership of the Reform Jewish congregation, but also for their tireless service to the Jewish and general communities through the decades.
Since its start with seven couples in the summer of 1982, Temple Kol Emeth has had good times and bad, and the seven leaders honored at the Lights of TKE gala saw the congregation through some rough patches as well as many high points. Above all, they never let the lights go out.
“None of them really go into retirement, as they are always called upon for guidance and wisdom,” Kol Emeth’s current president, Andy Linkon, said during the ceremony. “In all cases, these people have given of their personal time for the betterment of this synagogue and community. They have mentored and continue to mentor many of us. … They give of their bodies, soul and of course their financial resources … in order for Judaism to prosper and impact East Cobb, West Cobb, Kennesaw, Woodstock and points beyond.”
The honored seven remain active members of Kol Emeth:
- Jane Aronoff, who served as president from 1990 to 1992, was one of the founding members of Temple Kol Emeth. Having sold the business she founded and ran for two decades, Library Specialists, she serves in the leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism and is helping organize the congregation’s 30th-anniversary celebrations.
- David Strauss (1996 to 1998 and 2004) showed his devotion to the congregation by stepping up to serve as president a second time. He is the vice president of procurement for 7-Eleven and part of the national Union for Reform Judaism leadership while being a member of Kol Emeth and a Texas congregation.
- Bob Ganz (2000 to 2002) joined the Kol Emeth board shortly after moving his accounting practice from New York to Marietta in 1994. His community involvement includes serving as treasurer of the Princeton Corners Homeowners Association and membership in Walton High School athletic booster clubs.
- Richard Brenner (2002 to 2004) moved to Cobb County in July 1991 and joined the Kol Emeth board five years later—and an expected year or two of service turned into a decade. He is part of the national leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism and oversees specialty engineering for Lockheed Martin’s C-130 program.
- Matthew Stone (2004 to 2006) is the head of the Transportation Law Practice Group at the firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary. His volunteer work includes helping found the Smyrna Coalition to build a Habitat for Humanity house each year and serving as legal counsel to the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team’s advisory board, Friends for the East Cobb Park and the Hampton Farms Homeowners Association.
- Brad Kacher (2006 to 2007) has served on the Kol Emeth board for 12 of his 19 years as a congregation member and also volunteered for activities such as organizing High Holiday ushers and directing religious school traffic. The part-owner of Javelin Tire Southeast also met his wife, Cheryl, at Kol Emeth.
- Dave Mayer (2007 to 2010) has served eight years on the Kol Emeth board, including the rare three-year term as president. For a decade he has helped with the Habitat for Humanity build in which Kol Emeth participates each year. A Georgia Pacific employee, he tutors Atlanta elementary school students and mentors high school entrepreneurs.
“They literally spent hours upon hours upon hours of volunteering so that, as was mentioned earlier, we could have this temple,” Kol Emeth Rabbi Steven Lebow said.
The co-chairs of the gala evening, a fundraising event that included a successful silent auction and a raffle for a $1,000 gas card, were Cindy Singer, Renae Popkin, Ellen Lopez and Novy Scheinfeld.
Now a congregation of some 500 families, Temple Kol Emeth is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a series of special events and community efforts. The highlights include:
- Ahavat Torah, a yearlong project to allow all congregation members to participate in the writing of Kol Emeth’s new Torah. The latest session in which congregants joined scribe Rabbi Mordechai Danneman in writing letters in the scroll occurred Sunday, May 6.
- A Shabbat with acclaimed performer Craig Taubman, who joined Temple Kol Emeth for a Friday night service driven by music and spirituality May 4, then led a Havdalah (end of Sabbath) service and performed a concert May 5.
- The hiring of a second rabbi, Erin Boxt, who in June will join Lebow, Kol Emeth’s spiritual leader of a quarter-century, in guiding the congregation into a glowing, impactful future.