Monday, July 7, 2014

Remarkable People I Have Known: Ina Glasberg of Needham

Rabbi Sonsino
During my congregational rabbinate, I was fortunate to work with dedicated leaders and board members. However, among them Ina Glasberg occupies a very especial place.

Ina was part of the rabbinic search committee of Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA, when I came in 1980. She was a member of the Board of Trustees and then became a vice-president and finally the president of the synagogue. She served with distinction in whatever she undertook as a layperson.

Ina, an eshet hayyil (a “woman of valor”), is married to a wonderful and kind man, Ron. She is a devoted wife, a beloved mother and grandmother. After her presidency, she became a national board member of the Union for Reform Judaism, as well as taking on major roles in many of the social and religious associations of the greater Boston area.

Ina Glasberg
Ina is a presence in our temple. She has functioned in many capacities as a temple leader. She knows how to deal with people with kindness, yet without ignoring the rules and regulations that move the institution.  You cannot get mad at Ina because of the gentle way in which she says things, and because you know she means well and she is right. When Ina chaired a committee, it included more people than necessary, because she wanted to involve temple members in congregational functions as a learning tool.

I was fortunate to be a beneficiary of her wisdom and kindness. In 1991, during her presidency, Ines and I took a three-month Sabbatical in Israel. This was during the Gulf War with Iraq when Saddam Hussein was launching his rockets into Israel. Securely living in Jerusalem, I remember seeing the Scud missiles flying over our heads in the direction of Tel Aviv. Ina was beside herself. She kept calling us making sure we were safe and gently implying that we return. We assured her that we were safe, based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein would not be foolish enough to bomb Jerusalem and accidentally destroy the sacred Muslim shrines.

Presidents and rabbis meet regularly to discuss temple matters and strategies to achieve the goals of the synagogue. It is during these private meetings that Ina could tell me, in a very subtle way, the things that I either overlooked or ignored. She did that out of love and concern for my family and me, and I responded in kind. Ever since, I believe that every Rabbi deserves an Ina, and I was blessed to have her as a dear friend, for which I am eternally grateful.

Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D.
Rabbi Emeritus,
Temple Beth Shalom, MA
July 6, 2014

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