Members of Temple Beth Israel gathered on Feb. 7 to honor the leadership of the organization for their annual Leadership Award Dinner.
"Hello, my extended family," executive director Isaac Azerad said as he began the evening's remarks.
The event took on the feel of a massive family gathering as members mingled with longtime friends before dinner. Family of temple members joined the community for the elegant evening. Nelle Miller, an active local philanthropist and former president of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, was the guest of honor.
"If you lived in Sarasota in the last 18 years, chances are you encountered Nelle Miller in the philanthropic world," Azerad said.
Miller spoke of the power of community and finding hers in Sarasota after taking her hometown community in New York for granted. After finding a synagogue on the mainland, Miller settled into the community. Several members of that synagogue are now members of Temple Beth Israel.
"We're a small group, but one big community," Miller said. "Everybody here looks like someone I've met before and there's something so wonderful about that."
After hearing from the temple's immediate past president, Bob Vidger, attendees dined together on homemade pastries from Sylvia Pastor and other leadership members, a catered dinner and a wide variety of desserts.