Posted on November 1, 2010
Years ago a local Jewish group annually presented “The Hineini Award.” The word Hineini, I would soon find out, meant “Here I Am” in Hebrew. The organization gave it to people who spoke up and said, “Here I am…I’m
ready to help make a difference.” What a powerful concept. While I don’t know if the award still exists, there are in our midst at Temple Beth David people who say “Here I Am…I want to make a difference.” People like Erika and Allan Pogrund. The longtime Huntington Beach residents are two of our newest temple members. They recently offered to help facilitate and expand the Chavurah “friendship circles” program at our temple. Those of us who have spoken with the Pogrunds agree they are perfect for the role! They love to socialize, are very friendly, and they have allocated the time to make a wonderful difference at Temple Beth David.
Both retired eight years ago from careers in education. Erika taught elementary school for 38 years in Los Angeles after graduating from UCLA. Her mother and aunt were teachers so she had solid role models. Allan retired as an elementary school principal/director in the Ocean View School District. Before that he was a probation department supervisor for delinquent youth, a high school English teacher, a national trainer (of teachers and administrators), and an adjunct faculty member at Saddleback College. Despite being retired, he is still involved in local education as a member of the school district’s personnel commission and his local community services commission. He’s also been a trainer for the Anti Defamation League (ADL).
While education is a passion, traveling the world – and I mean literally the world – has been one of the couple’s greatest joys. They have traveled to all seven continents. Their most memorable adventures have been in Africa (a safari in Kenya), South American, Israel, and Asia (China is a favorite). They make sure to explore Jewish themes wherever they journey. Amid their travels, which are with private tour guides primarily, Allan found he had relatives in Cape Town, South Africa, so visits to relatives were an added bonus. Even one of Allan’s teaching positions was in Scotland. Born in Chicago and raised in West Los Angeles, Allan is a first generation American. His parents were from Lithuania. That’s a destination the couple has yet to visit, however. Travels within the United States are equally enjoyable. A favorite destination is New York, where Erika grew up. They also enjoy traveling to Boulder, Colorado where their 28 year old daughter now lives. She, too, loves to travel and has lived in London and volunteered for the American Jewish World Service in Uganda, Africa.
Another favorite pastime for Allan and Erika is reading. Erika is in a Jewish book club and has volunteered at her local library. Allan also enjoys reading diverse works, including those by Isaac Babel – who is acclaimed for writing about Russian Jewry. Both recommended the novel and film Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Erika likes to play Mahjong and take brisk walks. Exercise is a priority for Allan, as well. They also enjoy one another very much. Married in 1991, they had many kind things to say about one another. Erika shares that Allan is very warm, makes people feel comfortable, is able to talk to anyone, and puts people at ease. Allan says Erika is gracious, extremely warm, very honest, and lovely.
They look forward to becoming actively involved at temple. With an interest in Jewish issues and their Judaism, they are sure to embrace many of the temple’s programs. Both agree Temple Beth David has an authentic interpersonal dynamic that is unique.
We are thrilled they said, “Here I am.” We welcome them with open arms and warm hearts!