Tree Dedication At Steppingstone Park

Cantor Leslie Friedlander (left) and Rabbi Jerry Blum conduct the dedication ceremony at Steppingstone Park.

Temple Isaiah of Great Neck congregants dedicated a tree in Steppingstone Park to the memory of late Rabbi Theodore Tsuruoka.

Shortly after the untimely death of the temple’s rabbi last year, board member Elliott Gayer contacted the Great Neck Park District to inquire about naming a bench on the Steppingstone dock in memory of the rabbi. No benches were available at the time but, soon after, the Park District announced a program to plant 100 trees in celebration of the Park District’s 100th anniversary.

Temple Isaiah arranged to dedicate one in the rabbi’s memory. Rabbi Tsuruoka’s wife selected a red maple from the Park District’s catalog of species appropriate for Steppingstone and the tree was planted last October. The congregation held a dedication ceremony during Rosh Hashanah when members observed Tashlich, a tradition in which participants symbolically cast off their sins by tossing bread crumbs into a body of water.

The plaque that was dedicated to Temple Isaiah’s beloved Rabbi Theodore Tsuruoka

Temple Isaiah traditionally uses the Steppingstone dock for its Tashlich observance, and the tree was planted as close to the water’s edge as possible.

The dedication ceremony was planned to include participation by the rabbi’s wife, Linda, and his mother, Haruno. Tragically, both passed away before the ceremony took place.

The congregation hopes that community members will stop by the tree and memorial plaque when visiting Steppingstone Park, and take a moment to reflect on the memory of a treasured member of the Great Neck community.

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