Fay Boksenbom May, a 67-year member of Rockdale Temple, is the first recipient of the Women of Rockdale (WoR) Sisterhood’s Queen Esther Award, created to honor a long-term member’s service to Rockdale and to WoR. She received the award at the annual WoR Sisterhood Erev Shabbat service on Nov. 22, 2019.
“This award is for a WoR member who isn’t necessarily in a leadership role, but who is always there to participate in our activities, offer insights and suggestions at meetings and just help with whatever needs to be done,” noted WoR co-president Donna Gantner, who proposed creating the Queen Esther Award. “Fay has done all of that and been a constant force for making Rockdale all that it is today.”
Fay grew up in an Orthodox family with parents who wanted her to have a complete Jewish education. In addition to learning from them, she attended Sunday School and Jewish High School at Adath Israel Synagogue and studied Hebrew at Talmud Torah. As an adult she completed the Melton School and the Para-Rabbinic Fellow Program formerly offered by Hebrew Union College.
Fay came to Rockdale as a bride, where she and her husband Marvin (of blessed memory) raised their two sons and saw them through the Jewish rites of passage. She quickly joined the Sisterhood, for which she served as financial secretary and gift shop volunteer for many years.
When Women of Rockdale reorganized 7 years ago with a predominantly younger membership than that of the previous Sisterhood, Fay remained a member and regularly attendee at meetings. She provided institutional memory and wise counsel about creating a new mission and sustainable budget. She currently presents WoR’s gifts to Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrants during their services.
“Fay is always there,” said Gantner. “She’s been a wonderful role model.”
In addition to her WoR activities, Fay sang in Rockdale’s Shir Shalom Choir for more than 10 years. She has served on numerous temple committees and currently chairs the Ritual Committee. She has been regular greeter for Erev Shabbat services since Rockdale began the program six years ago and coordinates congregational outreach to members observing life cycle events. She is a regular attendee at Saturday morning Torah study and has substitute-taught the class on several occasions.
“Fay has given tirelessly and generously to the mission of Women of Rockdale and to the temple as well,” Gantner said. “She’s an exemplary member and a true woman of valor.”