Meet our new President!

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Mitch Kittenplan, and I was recently installed as President of Temple Beth El.  For my first article as President, “The Buzz” asked me to introduce myself. “Hmmm…” I asked the question, “what does that mean… to introduce myself?” I was told that I should tell everyone all about myself. “Wow,” I thought, “that’s a lot of years and a lot of things to cover.” Rather than bore you with too much detail I decided instead to give you… Mitch Kittenplan: The Cliff Notes!

Born in the Bronx, grew up in Jackson Heights, graduated Stuyvesant High School, Bachelor of Science from New York University, President of Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Master of Science in Educational Administration and Supervision from Pace University, moved to Huntington in 1977, Teacher of Technology Education for 35 years, President of NYC Technology Education Association, Portfolio Manager for Hassel Volvo of Huntington, Minnesota Twins Graphic Design and Stadium Scoreboard Operations…

Whew…a lot of decades in that one paragraph. Now that really shows my age!  But it still begs the next question…“How did I end up at Temple Beth El?”  That necessitates a bit more detail than just the Cliff Notes.

My parents were not overly religious people, but they wanted me to understand my Jewish roots. Growing up in Jackson Heights, we joined Congregation Tifereth Israel, an Orthodox temple. I attended Hebrew School there, starting in second grade, and attended services through my Bar Mitzvah and beyond. Of course, Orthodox services can be “a bit overwhelming.” So, I found myself over the years vacillating between being active in my temple and being a “major holidays Jew.”

When my wife Lois and I moved to Florida in 2008, I connected With Temple Beth El of Ft. Myers. It was there that I reconnected with my Jewish faith. In doing so I studied and celebrated my “Anschei Mitzvah” in 2011. I served on the temple board and was President of the Men’s Club for six years.

Moving back to New York, Lois researched local synagogues and thought that Temple Beth El was a “haimish” fit. I had attended occasional services there prior to our move, so I was familiar with this remarkable temple. We started attending services again in 2016 and we became gift members in 2017. We have cherished being part of this wonderful congregation since then. Additionally, I have served as Vice President of the Brotherhood and on the temple board. And now I’m proud to serve as President.

As President, I would like to express gratitude on behalf of myself and the congregation to Linda Braun. Thank you, Linda, for your hard work, dedication and leadership over the past 2 years, through good times as well as the tribulations of a worldwide pandemic.

I look forward to continuing to work with our dedicated leaders Rabbi Jeff and Cantor Alison, as well as all of you, as we build our temple family and make this a spiritual home for everyone. I hope to meet and spend time with as many of you as I can over the coming years. If anyone ever needs to reach out to me, whether to share a simcha, solve a problem, or simply say hello, please don’t hesitate to email me at tbepres@tbeli.org.

I feel honored to be a part of this amazing and loving temple family. Lois and I wish all of you the best for the New Year. May you be blessed with a year full of good fortune, peaceful harmony, and good health! Shana Tovah!