Robin Adler has been named Congregant of the Year of Temple Beth El, and will be honored by the congregation at a special service on Friday evening, June 3. This annual recognition is given to a congregant who repeatedly volunteers his or her services to the Temple and best embodies its ideals and those of Judaism.
She has been a member of Temple Beth El since 1984, when she first moved to Lancaster. During those 32 years, she has been involved in many aspects of congregational activities.
When she and her late husband, Howie, joined Temple Beth El, she became an art teacher at the temple’s Religious School. She later helped organize fundraisers for the school, and served on the Curriculum Committee and the Education Committee.
Robin served on the Temple Beth El Board under six different presidents and was board secretary for one term.
Among her passions, and one of the important mitzvahs in Judaism, is helping improve the lives of those less fortunate. As a result, she and another congregant organized the first of many Crispus Attucks meals that Temple Beth El members cooked for and served to hungry people in Lancaster City.
She considers this as one of her greatest accomplishments as a parent, teaching her children that there are people who are less fortunate, people who don’t always know from where their next meal is coming.
Robin spent the majority of her career at IU 13 as an orientation and mobility specialist with students who were blind or visually impaired. In this capacity, she worked in many school districts in the county, and taught some very needy students, some of whom were also homeless. After she became aware of the Lancaster School District Homeless Student Project, she organized Religious School students and congregants to donate toiletries for these children. They packed at least 700 toiletry kits over several years. In addition, she has also helped serve food at the First Reformed Church dinners.
Robin is a member of the temple’s Chevrah Kadisha Committee, which is responsible for the ritual washing of deceased persons.
Robin’s son Jon was the first Bar Mitzvah after our temple moved into its new building. Unfortunately, also at that time, a very painful period began in her life and the life of her family. Her husband Howie was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he subsequently passed away in November 2003. Two years into his diagnosis, she was diagnosed with the same illness. Fortunately, she is now an 11-year survivor thanks to extensive treatments that included a stem cell transplant. One doesn’t come away from such an experience without being profoundly changed.
During their illnesses, the couple was so well taken care of by friends in the congregation; they were often too ill to cook, clean and do other chores involved with running a household and raising two teens. Congregants graciously provided many meals for the family, donated a gift certificate for 6 months of house cleaning service, ran errands, watched her sons, took her older son Elliot to several college visits, helped with gardening, and made caring visits. All of these kindnesses influenced the person she was to become.
Several years ago, it became clear that Temple Beth El needed a better system to meet the needs of people who were ill, in nursing homes, or assisted living. A group of congregants started the Bikkur Cholim Committee, which was for visiting the sick. They later changed the name to the Chesed (kindness) Committee. She and another temple member, Judy Anthony, became co-chairs of the committee.
Through their leadership, the committee developed procedures for learning who was ill, and visiting those who were ill, alone or in nursing homes. They also send cards to these individuals for Jewish Holidays and for birthdays. Over the past three years, this committee has helped many people within the Temple Beth El congregation.
The Chesed Committee also provides meals when congregants are discharged following surgery or hospitalization, makes assurance calls to people who live alone, and arranges to match drivers with those in need of a ride to Temple services or occasionally to doctor’s appointments. This committee serves as a tremendous resource for the congregation.
Since her retirement in spring 2013, Robin has continued the work of the Chesed Committee. She also played a large role in running focus groups to determine what congregants were looking for in a new Rabbi. Subsequently, she served on the Rabbi Search Committee, and visited the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, along with two other committee members, to interview several rabbinic candidates. Upon hiring Rabbi’s Rami Pavolotsky and Daniela Szuster, she participated on the Rabbi Transition Committee.
Most recently, she helped with the Passover Project, which was spearheaded by Lancaster’s Jewish Family Services. Along with the Chesed Committee, she helped involve the Religious School, United Synagogue Youth (USY) and Sisterhood in this endeavor to collect food, assemble baskets, make cards and deliver them to congregants in need and those who live in senior facilities.
She also coordinated a monthly Mitzvah project for the Religious School students, and helped organize a Women’s Passover Seder that was held at Temple Beth El in April.
Robin is a member of the Beth Pomerantz Education Series Committee, which was formed after her close friend and temple member Beth Pomerantz passed away in 2013. She helps plan the annual educational series, which honors and remembers Pomerantz.
Finally, how many people can say they rolled batter into 1,000 falafel balls for the Temple’s annual Jewish Food Festival?
Robin grew up in Long Island, New York, in a non-observant home. Bagels, bialys, corned beef on rye and chocolate babka, along with Chanukah celebrations and Passover Seders, were the seeds of her Jewish identify. While living in Philadelphia in the early 1980’s, she joined the Germantown Jewish Center Minyan, a chavurah group participating in “New Age” Judaism. This was her introduction to her future religious life. Adler had her adult Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth El in 1988.
Her two sons Elliot and John reside in Philadelphia.