Welcome to “Leadership Spotlight”, where Jewish Federation of Macon and Middle Georgia recognizes the achievements and talents of our outstanding community members.
“Spotlight” currently focuses on the service of our many women Presidents who’ve successfully managed and led the congregations of both Temple Beth Israel and Congregation Sha’arey Israel.
Today’s Spotlight Q & A is with Betty Taylor who served as President of Temple Beth Israel in Macon from June 2014 to May of 2016
How did you arrive in the Macon/Middle Georgia area and how long have you lived here?
I am not a Georgia native. I was born, the youngest of ten children, in Manchester TN. At the age of 18, I joined the US Air Force as a computer technician. When my four years were up I moved from Omaha NE to Sacramento CA. I was soon hired by the US Government due to my technical background. It was in Sacramento that I began my journey to embracing Judaism. I began the conversion process there. Also in those last few years in Sacramento I began working with the International Affairs side of the Government and was assigned to the Middle East projects. I worked for a time with the Israeli Army on a large project and a lesser one with the Israeli Air Force.
I volunteered several times with Sar-el, a program that accepts volunteers to relieve IDF Reserve members in unskilled duties at various bases. I have packed deployment map packs for tanks in the Negev, packed meal kits for soldiers in the field, prepared gas mask kits for deployment to Israeli civilians, dismantled an intelligence base in the Negev, and more.
When I was transferred to Robins Air Force Base, I continued working with the Middle East working with most of the countries in the region. My last project was helping rebuild the Iraqi Air Force, after which I retired the end of December 2011.
Do you have a particular memory or challenge that stands out for you during your time as President at Temple Beth Israel that you'd care to share?
It was during the last year of my term that Rabbi Schlesinger announced his retirement. I had the honor of leading the rabbinic search committee that eventually led to us finding Rabbi Aaron Sataloff.
Tell us about your heroes, someone you admire, or someone who inspires your faith and why we should get to know more about them.
It isn’t so much someone that I admire or inspires me; rather, it is an organization. I have been fortunate to be with Daybreak – A Project of DePaul USA since November 2012. Daybreak truly works to eliminate homelessness while meeting their day-to-day needs. Providing meals, medical assistance, hygiene needs, and a safe place to spend their days, Daybreak also strives to further their education, provide assistance in finding employment, and eventually finding a home with an address of their own. I am impressed with how the Macon community has taken Daybreak to heart and supports their mission. The staff and volunteers there are to be admired for the unconditional love and compassion they share with the participants.
What is special about the Macon and Middle Georgia Jewish Community to you?
The Jewish community has a long and strong history in Macon. It is also seen as a strong and positive presence in the Macon area. We are involved in many efforts in the community – art, films, education, social work, etc.