As told to Barbara Prins, Past President and Co-Chair, 80th Anniversary Committee
As Central Synagogue of Nassau County prepares to celebrate its 80th Anniversary next June 18, 2016, we will be interviewing some of our congregants monthly before the celebration. In our first interview we are pleased to introduce – as the saying goes – a person who needs no introduction: Nina Roll.
Nina was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but is proud to say that she is also a U.S. citizen. I asked her “what was the first event that helped her and the family to feel connected with the congregation?” She quickly answered that her neighbor, Roz Schanzer, wife of Irving Schanzer, a former president of Central (1953-55), warmly welcomed her, husband Stuart and their young children, Roxanne and Richard. Mrs. Schanzer generously extended an invitation with tickets to attend High Holy Days Services. As a result, the family joined Central in 1972 where she and her husband soon became active members of the Couples Club and eventually its co-presidents.
Over the years she was Sisterhood President (1980-82), and has served on almost every temple committee. Nina is the proverbial people person. Whether it was as co-chair of the Membership Committee, or the very successful Fundraising Committee, or co-chair of one of the congregational Bazaars, she loves the personal contact with members – ever patient, understanding and respectful in her approach and interaction. And… she is also known for the wonderful Brazilian flan she prepares from time to time. Recently, after 30 years of service, she was made honorary member of the temple’s Board of Trustees, and continues to actively serve on the Board of Trustees and on the Caring Community Committee.
She has warm feelings, she says, regarding Central Synagogue – “It’s my spiritual community; it gives me a sense of belonging to a wider family, a place where my family has celebrated meaningful milestones, and has also been comforted in times of loss and illness. It’s a community that cares; it has given us strength and inspiration. My son Richard, became a Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed here, and my daughter Roxanne learned Hebrew at the Adult Education class at Central”. Nina takes pride, too, in having been a member of Central’s first Adult B’nai Mitzvah class.
Central has also been a source of her “best and lasting friendships,” she continues. I asked her why, if she had such congregational Board and Sisterhood leadership experience for so many years, she was never a president of the congregation. “I was asked but regretfully declined,” she said, “because at that time I had already accepted the chairmanship of the UJA Women’s Campaign.”She went on to praise the commitment of the rabbinic and lay leadership, the congregational volunteers and the professional staff who, as she put it, “have been indispensable in my life at Central Synagogue”.
As we wound up the interview she thanked me for “letting her reminisce.” We thank her for her constancy on behalf of and unwavering affection for Central.