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Meet our new President: Carol SIkov Gross

07/15/2020 11:48:17 AM


Carol Sikov Gross

As the new president of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, I want to introduce myself to those who may not know me or know of my generations-long connections to TOLOLS.

As a lifelong member of Tree of Life, a lot of my family history took place here, whether it was attending Friday night services after a delicious Shabbos family dinner that my mother had made or attending Tot Shabbat or Friday night services with my children followed by Chinese food at The New Dumpling House in Squirrel Hill. These were very different experiences. Why? Well, Rabbi Kaplan and Rabbi Berkun had Friday night services at 8 (I think). My mother was home on Fridays (after getting her hair done) making broiled fish, salad, a green vegetable and noodle kugel. Sometimes, my grandmother made dinner, which was the more traditional chicken noodle soup, roasted chicken and potatoes and cranberry mold. It was amazing how Grandmother could get those little molds onto the lettuce just perfect every time.

After my children were born, Tot Shabbat was early, so I would rush home from work to get us all there on time. We would sit on little plastic chairs on the bimah in the Pervin Chapel, sing songs and say some simple prayers. Afterwards, my children, Evan and Rayna, were hungry, so we would leave the shul and go out to dinner. Regular services were then moved to 6 on Fridays as an experiment, which has remained the practice. We ended up moving our family dinners to Sunday night, so that we could continue BOTH practices.)

In between those years, I grew up at Tree of Life. Along with my brothers, Bill and Paul, I attended Sunday School and Hebrew School. I was confirmed at Tree of Life. My mother, Rhoda F. Sikov, was active in the Sisterhood and a Donor Chair. She helped to write and performed in many shows at the shul. I remember performing in some of those shows, too.

I was married in the main sanctuary by Rabbi Solomon Kaplan and Cantor Harry Silversmith. My then husband and I joined the shul. I served as Chair of the Youth Commission for several years. I was elected to the Board of Trustees and served as a Trustee for many years. I also served as Co-Chair of Adult Education. I helped at numerous events over the years, including a Night at the Races, Bingo games, Purim Carnivals, an Antiques Roadshow, USY events and Friday night dinners following services.

Both of my children, Evan and Rayna, went to Sunday School and Hebrew School at Tree of Life. We had both a Bar and a Bat Mitzvah in the Pervin Chapel. Rayna had a kiddush luncheon following her Bat Mitzvah in the Robinson Pavilion. Both were confirmed here, too. Evan and Rayna, at different times, were president of our USY chapter.

My late father, Seymour A. Sikov, was president of Tree of Life from 1978 to 1980. He was involved with the shul both before and after his presidency. During the recent clean-up, I was going through a lot of old records. I found many letters to and from my father as well as handwritten notes, which was a nice connection to his time here. I may be the first child of a former president to serve as president. I am very honored to follow in my father’s footsteps. After he passed away in 2013, donations were made in his memory to Tree of Life. Our family used those funds, along with others that we added, to build and install the sign on the top of the Sanctuary, because we knew that would be something my father would have wanted. That sign at the top of the Sanctuary has become part of our iconic visual image. I am looking forward to the time when we will be able to be back in the Sanctuary for services and family events.

My father was always a staunch supporter of the shul. My family has always been staunch supporters of the shul. I see all of us- officers, board and members- as staunch supporters of Tree of Life who are committed to helping us move forward., We will stand together as we continue to figure out how services and events will be held after October 27th and after Covid-19.

I hope that all of us will be generous with our financial support for the shul. I ask that everyone be patient when things do not move as quickly as we would like. I will work closely with our spiritual leader, Rabbi Myers, our Executive Director, Barb Feige, our Program Director, Alex Speck, and our two vice presidents, Alan Hausman and Irwin Harris, as well as with the Board of Trustees and the past presidents. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child and I know it takes a whole congregation, not just a president, to raise a new and improved Tree of Life.

Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780