Spring Fundraiser Honoring Cindy Goussak
Vegas Born Cindy Goussak, member of Midbar Kodesh Temple, was recently honored by the synagogue for her vision, leadership and creative work that she has done at Midbar Kodesh Temple and throughout the community. Festivities began with Friday evening services and dinner prepared by Jerusalem Chef’s Table. Special guest Joel Chasnoff, author and comedian, spoke about Israel and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) during services, giving all a realistic but comical view of his experiences. After dinner he separated the congregation into 8 sections and helped each group discover what the mission statement in creating the state of Israel could look like. Guests found the exercise enlightening, learning that this task was not easy for the founders or the current leadership in this young country.
Saturday morning Cindy chanted the Torah portion. Chasnoff offered more insight into the Israel experience and the Israeli Defense Force Code of Ethics with a lively discussion amongst the congregation during a luncheon lovingly prepared by Susan Schwartz, friends and staff. Returning for Havdalah on Saturday evening guests then enjoyed a comedy hour with Joel. Presentations to Cindy followed. Guests ended the evening entering Jessica’s Garden, now blooming with colorful rose displays, to enjoy each other’s company, luscious desserts, and specialty drinks. Jessica’s Garden came into full bloom with the talents of SKRevents. Desserts were the artistic creation of Chaya Attal.
Though born in Las Vegas, Cindy grew up in Winnipeg, and that is the accent you pick up when talking to her. Cindy received her Master's Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and her Bachelor of Arts in Media from the University of Arizona. Cindy is married to Greg Goussak, now President of Midbar Kodesh Temple, and mother to Ariel and Alyssa. She is the daughter of Sharna Riceberg of blessed memory, and Midbar Kodesh Temple members Harvey and Janis Riceberg. Her sister is Marci Riceberg Altman, married to Joel Altman, also congregants of MKT. Brother Danny recently returned to Las Vegas.
Though Cindy spent several summers in Las Vegas she finally moved here permanently to marry Greg in 1996. She had known Greg over the years, as his father was the closest of friends to her dad. On her arrival Cindy began her career at Nevada State Bank working as a Vice President of Marketing. Cindy and Greg started their life together as early members of MKT at the storefront on Eastern, but it was in 2000, when looking for a family home, both spiritually and socially, that Midbar became her central passion. Coinciding with the opportunity to stay home to raise their daughters, Cindy's role as a "stay at home mom" meant establishing her own consulting company and launching what she calls her "career in volunteerism." Though Midbar Kodesh Temple had a pre-school on premises as early as 1995, Cindy, with friends Julie Ostrovsky and Riki Wiederhorn, began the Early Childhood Center and guided it to becoming the crown jewel it is today. Cindy joined Midbar's Board of Directors under the leadership of President Steve Green, with primary attention to the Early Childhood Center and Midbar Kodesh Temple's Religious School. It was under the co-Presidencies of Isabel Goldberg and Carlos Banchik that she became Treasurer, a position that she held collectively for over 8 years. She served as the synagogue's Vice President for 1 year and President for 3 years.
As Ariel and Alyssa finished high school and left for college, Cindy looked at transitioning back into the workforce. Her consulting business put her in the position to help establish the non-profit Collaboration Center Foundation, a community for inclusion, focused upon family and peer engagement, social interaction, recreation, therapy and education for families with disabilities. At the same time she brought her administrative talents to Welt Law, a local law firm. She is now the Chief Operating Officer with Collaboration Center Foundation, works a few hours a week at the law firm and continues her volunteer career at Midbar Kodesh Temple.
Over the years at Midbar Kodesh Temple Cindy was the driving force behind many programs, as well as branding and communications, and has chaired decades of fundraising events, including acknowledgement programs, like the one in which she is being honored. Often her committees would say "we should honor Cindy" and then looked at each other shrugging their shoulders to say, "well who would chair it?" Cindy was to be honored in 2020 but the event, like everything else that year, was cancelled due to Covid. This year, under the capable guidance of Susan Schwartz, Abbie Villanueva, Becky Lewis, Marci Altman, Janis Riceberg, Dayna Eisen, Rina Sterling, Katrina Huddleston, Sharon Diamond, Susan Tecktiel, Emily Ventura, Mona Rudnick and Ileen Spoor the event became reality.
Cindy says that her "heart will always be with Midbar Kodesh Temple." She gives countless hours of time and talent to ensure a legacy for years to come. Cindy takes much pleasure in mentoring new leadership. She takes joy in watching the MKT family come together to always make it happen." You will hear her say "this is why we do it" as she proudly watches the congregation share joy, and sometimes sadness. It fills her to see congregants warmly greet new members, move the chairs to set up a room or to make room for others, fill a shiva house and truly be there for each other. Cindy often likes to paraphrase a line from a favorite movie saying that it truly defines her relationship with MKT. "Midbar completes me.”