Michael Chertok

Categories: Va'ad

Sha’ar Zahav is more than my community; it’s my chosen family. I joined twenty years ago after attending High Holy Day services. I was so struck by how these rituals celebrated a diversity of beliefs and identities that were consistent with my values—and offered deeper meaning in my life and my Jewish experience.

Over the years, I have changed and the community has changed with me. Now, I find myself connecting most deeply with the meditation chavurah and the joyous music and dancing that accompany our Shabbes beat services. I bring the high I get from these services with me in my work as a social entrepreneur, serving on a management team of a social business that employs youth from poor families in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya–and veterans and military spouses in Virginia.

I’ve also found community through volunteering on a range of Sha’ar Zahav committees, task forces and events. Before starting my term as President, I was especially focused on our identity work and how we support our membership to become more engaged.

I believe we find holiness in our connections with others.  Sha’ar Zahav has helped me to become a better self. I am deeply grateful to our clergy and to so many members for their mentorship and support.