Presidents HighHoliday 2016 letter to the Congregation

Posted on October 14, 2016


Dear Fellow Congregant,

For the Jewish people, the High Holidays represent a time for internal reflections and a time to think about how we will improve ourselves to meet the challenges of the upcoming year.  This is equally true of our congregation.  As the President of Congregation Beth Israel, I am very excited and honored to lead our community as we move forward into the New Year.  We enter 5777 in a strong financial position and with a growing membership.  We also have significant challenges, most notably the retirement of Rabbi Nudell in June and the search for a new rabbi.  Given all that is going on, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of our current initiatives.
Rabbinic Search Committee – The Rabbinic Search Committee, co-chaired by David Feldman and Joanne Schwartz, has been working diligently to ensure that we find the right rabbi for CBI.  Our goal is to make this the most transparent, congregation-driven rabbi search in history.   CBI members have had the opportunity to participate in online surveys, focus groups, and town hall meetings.  We appreciate all the input received to- date and will continue to seek out involvement from the community. In this way, we are confident we will find the right rabbi for our congregation.
Membership – Our synagogue family has been growing.  Over the past few months, 29 new families have joined.  We are thrilled to welcome new members to CBI and we look forward to seeing everyone throughout the coming year.
Religious School – With the increase in membership, we have had a corresponding increase in religious school enrollment.  The school has grown so much that in the coming year, every room in the synagogue is needed for a class. Gail Buchbinder, our Education Director, has done an excellent job staffing our religious school, and we have a full complement of teachers dedicated to ensuring an top-notch Jewish education for CBI youth.  Gail has a fantastic year planned for the CBI youth, and we look forward to seeing what our religious school children will accomplish.
Office Staff – We have a new addition to our office staff.  Genevieve Isolda joined us in August, and has very quickly become an integral part of CBI.  She joins our Executive Director Davida Berkowitz and our Bookkeeper Stacy Margaritondo.  They, along with our custodians Jesus Funes and Ricky Rodriguez, have been working very hard preparing for the High Holidays, and doing a great job making sure CBI runs smoothly.
Rabbinic Intern – Ben Goldberg, a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, is back this year as our rabbinic intern. Ben will visit us approximately once each month, and under the direction of Rabbi Nudell, will deliver D’vrei Torah, lead davening, develop and teach adult education, and assist in the religious school. Ben’s schedule will be posted on the CBI website and will be announced in the Shalom Way. Ben has been a terrific addition to our service, and will have an even more expanded role in the upcoming year.
Kol Nidre Appeal – We rely on this annual appeal to meet our operating expenses at CBI.  This campaign funds over 10 percent of our annual budget.  Led by Howard Koransky and a dedicated team of community members, this effort is vital for CBI because dues do not sufficiently cover our day to day operating costs.  Please give generously.
CBI Legacy Circle – We just completed our second year in this Grinspoon and Jewish Community Foundations co-sponsored program. Thanks to our team leader, Jon Ulanet, we once again have exceeded our goal of 18 gifts and we received our second $10,000 incentive payment. If you have not already done so, please consider making a legacy gift to CBI.  This does not require a financial donation today, but a promise for the future.  This will help ensure CBI stays a healthy, vibrant congregation for years to come.
The CBI board is committed to our congregation and our community.  If you have anything you   would like to share with us, suggestions, questions, etc., please feel free to contact me or anyone on our board.  We look forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 5777. 
L’Shanah Tovah!
Stephen M. Wiener