Temple Beth El
Dear Temple Beth El Family,
As we approach the final few weeks before the High Holidays, for all intents and purposes we’re concluding the “Beth El Year.” Thus it’s timely to review the past year with you in the president’s year-end report.
We commenced the year in August, 2017, with several objectives:
*Acceptance by the congregation of our first-year rabbi, Claudio Kupchik
*Rabbi Kupchik’s integration with the membership positively impacting the congregation
*Increased participation at holiday and Shabbat services and the daily minyan
*Increased engagement of members through a variety of religious, cultural, and social events and programs
*Improved interaction with members and the community through social media and a website
*Replacement of our original by-laws with a constitution for the 21st century
*Introduction of new lay leadership throughout the Beth El organization
*Management of our finances to ensure a balanced budget and to increase our surplus account
*Increased overall spirit, enthusiasm, and optimism throughout the membership
So how’d we do?
While I’ll allow you, our “customers,” to judge for yourselves, here are the facts:
*Rabbi Kupchik introduced numerous songs and new traditions to enhance the spirit at our services. His Wednesday classes were a treat for those available on weekday mornings. We’ve had only positive comments about his spirited and friendly manner and his family.
He’s reached the entire congregation through his efforts building our new, terrific website (www.templebethelofcedarhurst.org) and our presence on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TempleBethElofCedarhurst/) .
*While it is always a challenge encouraging people to come to services, we are so pleased that there has been a noticeable increase in attendance both on Shabbat mornings and at our daily minyanim.
*We’d exhaust our supply of paper and ink reviewing all the temple events of the last year. Sisterhood and Men’s Club delivered innumerable programs, such as movies, speakers, meals, sporting events, bingo, and the fashion show to complement affairs such as the Gala and Cantor’s Concert. We’ve already developed an equally extensive calendar of events for the coming year. It was gratifying to see so many people at these, but there is always room for more.
*On June 19, a new set of by-laws, The Beth El Constitution, was approved at the congregation’s annual meeting. Thanks to governance committee chair Steve Biller and his team of Cherie Feinberg, Susan Schlaff, Howard Berke, and Harvey Lazarowitz, with guidance from Eddie Edelstein and Rabbi Kupchik, for their diligence in ensuring completion of this year-long process for the congregation meeting.
*The new constitution reduced the trustees from 42 to 27 plus past presidents to better reflect the size of the congregation. In doing so, we introduced several new trustees and created a lifetime position of “honorary trustee” to recognize those who served for many years and offered to make way for new trustees.
At our first meeting of the new trustees in July, we identified 5 areas to address and created trustee committees to develop action plans which are in process. These are: healthy living, bikur cholim, education and programming, social action, and revenue enhancement.
Earlier this year we announced new leadership in the Men’s Club, now led by Milton Lipitz, and the Ritual Committee with Phil Ritzenberg.
The Minyan Society is being re-energized under new co-presidents Rhonnie Fischman and Phil Yacht. In conjunction with Rabbi Kupchik, they implemented a new texting system, will be offering free taxi service for anyone wanting to attend but unable to drive to services, and arranged for community service credit to be given to local high school students who help us attain a minyan. And there’s more to come.
*And, finally, there’s the never-ending requirement to maintain a healthy financial position. We did, in fact, finish the fiscal year on budget, despite several significant expenses. Your generosity and our other major sources of income—rental and caterer—enabled us to remain on plan. Several major gifts and our sale of Beth El cemetery plots, at a deep discount to current market prices, provided us with a significant addition to our reserves. We are no longer restricting sale of the graves to temple members, enabling others to purchase at half the market price by becoming an associate member for a nominal fee. If we are able to sell our entire remaining inventory, we will enjoy a very comfortable reserve “cushion” we have not reached in years. If you circulate this opportunity with family and friends, you’ll do a mitzvah for both the buyer and the temple.
We hope you share our sense of accomplishment and optimism. But there is always room for improvement.
So what can we, as a congregation, do better this coming year?
*We’re striving to never fail to hold a service for lack of a minyan. Anyone wanting say Kaddish, or merely daven, deserves that opportunity. If you can spare 30 minutes once a month, you’ll make a difference.
*At many of the great events we held, there were empty seats. We’re taking measures to see more of our members occasionally.
*Our financial plan again anticipates a balanced budget. Within the sources of income, perhaps the area requiring the most attention is full congregational participation in the annual Kol Nidre Appeal. Whether your pledge is a lot or just a few dollars, reaching 100% participation is a message to each other and the community that we’re all committed to the Temple’s future. You’ll be receiving a personalized letter later this month explaining why your gift is important.
*We must build our reserve account to several hundred thousand dollars. We have a unique opportunity to do that, as I outlined above, through the sale of our cemetery plots. It’s imperative that we succeed on this effort.
*I suspect you can cite other areas for improvement, suggest new ideas, or even volunteer your assistance. All of those will be appreciated.
Looking forward to another active, enriching, and prosperous year with you.
Previous Messages by the Temple President:
Dear Members, Prospective Members, and Visitors,
Welcome to the New Temple Beth El.
How can a temple that’s been an integral part of the community for 95 years be the “New Temple Beth El?” Let me count the ways.
*The website you are perusing was just built, part of our initial presence in the world of social media. See us on Facebook as well.
*Rabbi Claudio Kupchik joined us September 1, 2017.
*Seaview Caterers, our terrific in-house caterer, recently renovated the spectacular ballroom and cocktail area.
*A new slate of officers, including me, “the new president,” was elected in June, 2017, to serve the congregation.
*Our Men’s Club, under new leadership, and Sisterhood continuously introduce exciting programs.
*The temple’s original, 95 year-old, by-laws will be replaced by a new set by spring.
We’ve accomplished all this in the past few months while retaining our long time members, magnificent sanctuary, cantor, ritual director, executive director and the many traditions that comprise the heart of Temple Beth El. It’s been like changing the airplane’s engine while in mid-flight.
With new lay leadership and rabbi, we’ve established an organizational direction built on the foundation necessary for a thriving, sustainable, and great congregation. It is comprised of 3 fundamental components, each of equal importance and interdependent on the others:
We look forward to seeing you at services, social events, and temple excursions. See the calendar for the complete schedule.
President, Temple Beth El