Meet our newest Board Members
I grew-up without any synagogue affiliation, but my wife, Leslie, knew the joys of growing up here at Congregation Shaarie Torah. I never even saw Portland until 1996, the year when Rabbi Geller (z”l) and Cantor David Rosenberg (z”l) officiated at our wedding. I remember feeling almost like I was in a job interview when I met with R’ Geller to talk about marrying one of his congregants.
I remember the crazy week of parties that my in-laws arranged for our out-of-town and local wedding guests. I also remember the murmur that went through the sanctuary at the end of the ceremony, when R’ Geller introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Petcher! I guess some folks hadn’t heard that I was taking Leslie’s family-name before that moment. Even now, I occasionally run into old-timers who will tell me that they remember my father from the Men’s Club, and I correct them to say that they remember my father-in-law.
Leslie and I stayed in Knoxville for the first year of our marriage but moved to Portland as soon as we could find good jobs here. For our first few years in Portland, we came to CST for the occasional holiday or to help with projects like baking Hamentaschen but remained unaffiliated the rest of the year while we developed our careers and our home-life in the wilderness of Bull Mountain, South of Beaverton. I called CST “the synagogue where my wife’s family are members” or “the synagogue where my wife grew-up.” I still don’t really know why we weren’t ready to affiliate, but we just didn’t, yet.
Each year we did a little more and about a decade ago, I started coming to the morning Minyan on Monday and Thursday on my way to work. At first, I wasn’t really sure why I was there; I could barely follow Rabbi Zuckerman through the service. Sometimes though, there would have been only nine people if I hadn’t come. Later, my mother-in-law, Phyllis Petcher, passed away. I was grateful to have a synagogue to support my family, and I grew to enjoy helping to make the Minyan. Once in a while, I would even show-up for a Shabbat, a class, to fry latkes or knip Hamentaschen.
Eventually, we actually joined the Congregation and started paying dues to support its programs and facilities. I wasn’t very regular at Shabbat, but I supported the Minyan regularly (and usually punctually). Leslie and I started to come for more of the Hamentaschen baking sessions and we eventually were persuaded to come early and divide the ingredients before grinding the filling. I still felt weird about calling CST “my shul.” Groucho Marx’s reluctance to join any group that would be willing to have him as a member seemed to describe my feelings.
About five years ago, Phil Cohen started asking me to join the Board. We needed a Secretary to take the meeting minutes, and that seemed like a good place for an introvert like me to contribute productively. I could finish the present Secretary’s term and perhaps stay on for another two year term, if I was still needed. One term turned into two, and that extended just a little longer….
I’ve started participating in services, in the Purim Spiel, and in Adult Education much more in the past few years, and I’ve finally stopped feeling weird about calling CST “my shul.” My inner Groucho finds other areas to speak his mind: “Outside of a dog, a book can be man’s best friend….”
The Board itself has calmed greatly in the last few years. I like to think that my recording conflicts “with a civil tongue in my head” has contributed almost as much as the positive influence of R’ Rose and our Executive Directors. These last two and a half years with Peter Lyman as President have been very productive and satisfying. There are exciting and challenging tasks for us to handle in the coming months, and I look forward telling you more about them and soliciting your help in getting them accomplished successfully.
Melissa has a long family history at Shaarie Torah and has served on numerous committees as well as Past President of Sisterhood and Project Manager of SULAM for Strategic Planning.
She holds a strong commitment to her community and loves to help others. She is a Song of Miriam Award honoree and was on the Shaarie Torah Board previously. Professionally, Melissa is a Regional Account Manager and Recruiting Specialist at a Global Human Resources consulting company specializing in leader development, executive coaching, and outplacement services.
Rob Sturtz grew up on the South Shore of Long Island, NY. He and his high school sweetheart, Sara Jane, have been married over 50 years and have three sons. The couple moved to PDX nearly 6 years ago to be close to their oldest son’s family, which includes two grandchildren.
In over thirty eight years with United Airlines, Rob directed jet fuel procurement on a global scale and served as chairman of the board for the six companies he established on United’s behalf. Rob and Sara lived in Chicago for thirty years and now split their time between Portland and Boulder, Colorado, where their other two sons live.
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