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High Holidays Information & Fundraising

Co-Presidents Kol Nidre Appeal   Letter

L’Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom!

I am Rich Squadron, Co-President with Sharon Menashes. Welcome to all of you here with us today – our members longstanding, recent, new or returning; our friends and guests; and those who are joining us for the first time or just for this time. Temple Beth El is a welcoming and diverse community and I am glad to see that reflected here today.In particular, I want to welcome back previous members who have returned as new members this year – we are very glad that you have joined us again.

Last year, a few months after Sharon and I had been elected as Co-Presidents, I expressed my desire to meet and get to know you this past year. I feel like I have done so with many of you, but know that there are still many members who I have not met. I want to remedy that this coming year. I will try to do so, but please introduce yourself to me as well and let me know your insights for the Temple.

This past year has been one of transition for our Temple in many ways. We have restructured the staffing responsibilities with our Temple Administrator, Rachel Mussaf, taking on new responsibilities as Administrator for the Religious School and Administrative Assistant Beth Giffin switching to a full-time role with specific responsibilities in IT areas. Rachel has done a great job, with support from Rabbi Jacob, our Education Committee chair and members and our RS teachers, preparing for and commencing our school year. You should also expect to receive many communications from Beth in the coming months as she spearheads the implementation of our expanded Shul Cloud capabilities.

We have also this past year begun to address needed repairs to our aging building and replacement of failing kitchen equipment. But as you all know our most significant transition has been from Rabbi Micah to Rabbi Jacob as the spiritual leader for our Temple. In the 2 months Rabbi Jacob has been with us, he has accomplished an amazing amount. In addition to moving and arranging new logistics for his two children, he has worked with the families and officiated at a wedding and 3 Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, been at the center of developing a program for our Confirmation class this year and prepared for these High Holiday services. He has done all this while reaching out to past and current members to introduce himself and get to know them. On a personal note, he has been wonderfully supportive to my wife, Teddy, and me in connection with the recent death of Teddy’s Mother.

Sharon and I see a positive community spirit and energy that Rabbi Jacob is already generating in our Congregation and we have established Advisory and Transition teams to support him. If you have not already done so, please seek out Rabbi Jacob and introduce yourself to him. And, of course, we encourage you to let him know that you, as Sharon and I do, appreciate his efforts, openness and collaborative approach.

I need to acknowledge the significant investment of time and energy over more than 9 months from the twelve members of our Rabbi search committee, and particularly its two Chairmen, Robert Gelman and Robert Prybutok. This was a monumental effort from a group of individuals that supported each other throughout the process and brought and applied their individual talents to the Committee’s work.More generally, I extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the life of the Temple over the past year.

However, I mainly want to focus, and have all of you focus, on the future. Last year I talked about how our priorities were healing any divisions in our community that have existed, making sure the spiritual needs of Temple Beth El are successfully provided for, addressing significant financial issues facing the Temple and determining the path forward for Temple Beth El in the longer term. We have made some significant progress on these goals but there is a great amount to still accomplish. We have made a good start in healing divisions in our community. We need to continue our progress in supporting each other, in acknowledging what each of us does to show our love of, and commitment to, Temple Beth El and in fostering the strong and positive spirit and identity of family and community that is Temple Beth El. We all need to reach out to each other, to past members and to the broader Jewish community to highlight the open, welcoming, diverse and friendly environment and nature of our Temple.

We have also made progress in addressing financial issues facing Temple Beth El, but much more needs to be done. While we reduced expenses this past year and made some structural changes to reduce expenses further, we continue to experience deficits, although less this past fiscal year than had been budgeted. As those of you who were with us last night and heard Bob Prybutok know, we instituted a High Holidays appeal last year which we are continuing this year. Although the appeal was very successful last year, in the spirit of Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah, we ask you all to dig deep to repeat your donation from last year or, if at all possible, see how much more than last year you can pledge and give.

This money is needed not only to support our ongoing programs and activities, but the many specific needs of the Temple such as a new stove for the kitchen, repair of cracked asphalt and drainage issues that have damaged some of the flooring in the social hall, a new air conditioning unit, and updates to our security system. In response to our Appeal, the Gelmans, Ogintzes and Tannys have already pledged several thousand dollars each to fund the replacement of a refrigerator and industrial dishwasher in our kitchen. Whether or not you direct any funds you pledge and contribute to be applied first to a specific need of TBE, please make sure, if you have not done so already, to get the envelope in our foyer for you to use to make your pledge.

If you are not able to reasonably contribute further to the Temple financially (or even if you are), please consider the many other ways that you can support Temple Beth El such as volunteering in the kitchen, supporting the Religious School, helping to set up, clean-up or otherwise assist with TBE’s many functions and activities, serving on a Committee or identifying a need or worthwhile cause that you might Champion and lead.

For those of you who have participated in the Create a Jewish Legacy program by submitting a Declaration of Intent – thank you for providing for the future and long-term health of our community. It is not too late for those of you who have not yet done so to do so this coming year. For those of you who have participated, if you have not done so already, it is now time to take the next step and implement your declaration by including Temple Beth El in some way in your estate, insurance, pension or other end of life arrangements. The Create a Jewish Legacy Program is one way to help with the long-term viability of Temple Beth El so that TBE is here for our children and grandchildren and this community in the future.

Just as important is the need for our Board, and Sharon and I as Co-Presidents, to work on developing the path forward for Temple Beth El in the longer term. Sharon and I hope to be able to focus the rest of this year on re-starting and energizing strategic planning efforts that were initially commenced several years ago and on other longer-term planning for our Synagogue. I would like to close by repeating something from my speech last year.

This is what I see in the coming years as some of the key attributes and elements that will be required from all of us. We will need to be willing and able to do things differently. Times and circumstances have changed and we are going to need to change how we do things as a result. We need to continue to be considerate of each other. The most important thing to making our community successful and wonderful will always be how we treat each other. We all need to approach each other and everyone’s actions in the spirit of respect and forgiveness. Rabbi Jacob spoke last night in his sermon about forgiveness and that remains a key to TBE being a cohesive and positive community. Let’s all remember, we are all trying our hardest and working with the best of intentions to support our community. I wish everyone an uneventful fast and a healthy and fulfilling New Year. L’Shana Tova







Tue, January 28 2020 2 Shevat 5780