Lynn Silton: Beth Am Women President 2001-03 | Congregation Beth Am

Lynn Silton: Beth Am Women President 2001-03

Lynn Silton: Beth Am Women President 2001-03

Watch Lynn's video interview or read the edited highlights from her interview below:

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What do you think is the purpose of Beth Am Women?
Beth Am is a very big congregation, and I think joining a sisterhood like Beth Am Women is a wonderful way to make it a little smaller for people. You can join an organization and get to know a smaller group of people and become more confident, especially if you’re a new member, and begin to then branch out. So I think it plays an incredibly important role in the warmth of the community.

When did you join Beth Am Women?
I joined maybe a year before I became president. A woman named Cherie Half took me to lunch and said, “You know, you should join Beth Am Women and maybe become president at some point. We try to recruit people whenever we can.” I said, “Sure.” She’s a very persuasive person and I really like her a lot and so I was happy that she did this.

Did you make a lot of friends in Beth Am Women?
I did. There are still people that I see and know. I don’t participate as much as I used to, but it still just holds a warm place in my heart. When I go to services, I often see people I know that I met that way.

Is Beth Am Women a part of the mainstream of the congregation?
It probably always has been, but I think it certainly is, and as we get larger as a congregation, it becomes more and more important. It’s a generous, kind, wonderful group of women, so I think it’s very representative of the congregation and that’s a good thing.

The president of BAW regularly goes to the Beth Am Board meetings. There was something called a “wish list” that the clergy puts together and Beth Am Women would always look at the wish list and try to make a contribution to the congregation in general. One example of a BAW contribution to the congregation is the Meditation Garden where you can sit and just be serene. That was something that we paid for and helped design.

How do you think Beth Am Women have influenced or shaped the culture and even the style of worship here at the congregation?
Many members of Beth Am Women have been on the Worship Committee, and so there’s cross-over there. And I think just by being there and doing things like making hamantaschen and doing other little projects makes it integral.

What do you remember about your tenure as president?
I started a yearly retreat where we would get together to plan the upcoming year. We began holding it on a Saturday or Sunday, maybe it was at a house. And now I believe they do it here at Beth Am and they do it on a weeknight, but they start about four in the afternoon, have dinner, and then plan the year there, so that was something that people found value in and kept doing.

How has your time as president of BAW affected you?
It was a wonderful experience and I was just so excited to be asked to do this that I’ll never forget it.

Being a part of Beth Am Women made Beth Am a much cozier, smaller place for me. My husband and I were members for maybe somewhere between twenty-five and thirty years. It’s easy in a big congregation to maybe just come to services and leave. But if you are doing things with the congregation, then you stay a little bit longer and if you know some people, you talk a little bit more. I think the impact on us has been that we felt more comfortable. We met people, became more confident and happier to be there.

Going into any large group where you don’t know many people is, for me at least, a little scary. When it was broken down to maybe twenty people at the board meeting or the YES Tea or smaller events, you get to know people and feel more comfortable. At least that’s my experience. I’m on the shy side of life, so for me it was really great. The year that I was president I was the emcee of the YES Tea and that was a frightening but nice experience.

I must say that, I guess for my husband and me, Beth Am is kind of like the way my dad would talk about the Atlantic Ocean. I grew up on a barrier island in New Jersey. Dad would say, “I could never leave the ocean.” And we’d say, “You’ve never even been there in two years.” And he’d say, “Well, I just like to know it’s there.” I feel that way about Beth Am. It’s very comforting to know it’s here.

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