In Judaism, the number 18 is magical. It represents life — chai — and is considered a good omen. Giving gifts in multiples of 18 is customary, and Steve Lewis, Temple Shalom’s executive director, has been a gift to the synagogue for the past 18 years. “It has been a privilege for all of us to have such a supportive partner in this holy work. I am grateful for the time we spent together working with someone who was such a great partner and supporter of creating joyful experiences for all our learners,” said Deborah Niederman, RJE, director of Jewish learning.
Steve came to Temple Shalom from the travel industry. Unfamiliar with Judaism or the running of a synagogue, he soaked up temple life and became a board member of NATA, the National Association for Temple Administration. He shepherded Temple Shalom through numerous projects and campaigns and handled the demands of eight temple administrations. Everyone who meets Steve feels his calming presence and wants to do whatever he asks of them.
Because he has touched the lives of so many congregants, it was easy to gather a committee to organize a celebration of his career at Temple Shalom and his lasting impact on this holy community. Julie Eichelbaum and Kathryn Frish, co-chairs of the “A Fond Farewell to Steve Lewis” event committee, planned a casual barbecue-themed evening to celebrate the man behind the scenes who dislikes pomp and circumstance and served Temple Shalom with grace and dignity.
On May 7, more than 200 members of the congregation and staff celebrated with Steve and his family. A tribute video, tribute book, barbecue dinner and delicious dessert were just the beginning. Roasts and toasts by Rabbi Andrew Paley; Dennis Eichelbaum, president and master of ceremonies; Julie Eichelbaum and Kathryn Frish; and past presidents were a fun and sentimental way to thank Lewis for his dedication, compassion, hard work, support and leadership. Lewis has been the ideal executive director “who mentored each president and led the staff by example, with dignity, professionalism, compassion and diligence. He has left an indelibly positive mark on Temple Shalom, and we wish him the best in his retirement,” said Dennis Eichelbaum.
Temple Shalom staff and congregants will miss Lewis’ leadership, but he has already signed up for the golf tournament and fall fundraiser Corn Hole Tournament. He will be an everlasting friend and mentor at Temple Shalom. “Steve leaves us in good hands with our existing staff and new executive director, David Lamden, and, while the next phase of his life is exceptionally well-deserved, we will miss him dearly,” said Julie Eichelbaum and Kathryn Frish.
“To Steve, we say l’chaim — enjoy your much-deserved retirement,” they added.