One of Temple Israel of Great Neck President Burton Weston’s passions is the success and well-being of his congregation and community. Another is a love of Italy and its culture, food and language.
The two will meet at the congregation’s gala journal dinner dance honoring Weston and his wife, Joyce, on Sunday, June 4.
The event marking the conclusion of his two terms as president will have “An American in Italy” as a theme, according to Sherry and Sam Husney, the chairs of the gala. “We will celebrate the leadership of Burton and Joyce at Temple Israel along with a flavor of Italy in the food, the music and the festivities,” they said.
The evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom, followed by a program, dinner and dancing. “We haven’t all been together in the ballroom for a celebration since the start of COVID,” said Sherry Husney. “We owe it to the Westons for shepherding the congregation through the pandemic. This is an opportunity to thank them for leading us through a very difficult time.”
Reflecting on his terms as president, which he will complete in June, Mr. Weston said it went by “in the blink of an eye. It is hard to believe that four years have gone by so fast.”
Prior to becoming president, he had served as a vice president of the congregation, a member of the board of trustees and the finance committee, and treasurer of the men’s vlub.
Joyce Weston had also served on the board of trustees and the Board of the EmpTInesters, was president of the religious school PTA, and a member of the president’s council, ritual committee and sisterhood.
Burton Weston proudly pointed out that, despite all of the concerns that COVID brought, “We never missed a Sabbath service. Our clergy, lay leaders and staff had to react to ever-changing circumstances and tremendous unknowns. We were required to reinvent how we delivered services to the membership, but we delivered them nevertheless. We looked to keep Temple Israel life as close to normal as we could while keeping’s our members safe. We had to navigate High Holy Day services, Sabbath services, regular programming, educational programming. The challenges were enormous.”
He said, “our members really stepped up and showed their true colors. In the beginning and throughout, people reached out and made sure our needy were safe, delivering groceries to folks that needed food and keeping us all connected.” He called that “a remarkable achievement. There was no manual to guide us on how to navigate COVID. To a degree, we had to reinvent the way people prayed, the way they connected with each other and the way they connected to Temple Israel.”
Weston said he has “high hopes for the future of Temple Israel. This congregation is committed Jewishly, is fiercely smart and very opinionated—and these are all good things. I chose to become president of Temple Israel because I thought it was an important thing to do.”
But what will he do with all of his free time when his term is over? “I will have additional opportunities to return to my passion. I will learn more Italian — just for fun. I hope to travel a bit more and still enjoy my work and my family.”
He said he will also continue his work in the Village of Thomaston, where he serves as a trustee.
Sherry Husney said, “ThisgGala gives us a chance to honor two wonderful people and thank them for bringing us through a difficult time. Tickets to the celebration are $200 each and ads in the journal begin at $120. Full-page ads include two tickets to the dinner dance. Ads can be placed by visiting the Temple Israel website, www.TIGN.org, or by calling the congregation’s executive director, Jamey Kohn at 516-482-7800.
“I hope this event becomes a celebration of our community,” Weston said. “It is lovely being honored, but it is more important to show we are back in full force and Temple Israel is back to normal.”