Presidents High Holiday 2017 letter to the Congregation

Posted on March 12, 2018

Dear CBI family,

As we enter the 5778, we also begin a new chapter in the life of CBI.  Of course, the most obvious change for our congregation is our new spiritual leader, Rabbi Howard Tilman.    We have launched two new committees, the Safety and Security Committee and the Inclusion Committee.  And, we have a number of key initiatives in the works.  Overall, I am happy to report that our synagogue family continues to grow and we remain financially strong.   The New Year promises to be an exciting time for CBI.

New Rabbi Update – We are thrilled to have Rabbi Howard Tilman, his wife Naomi, and their newborn son Micah join the CBI family.  Rabbi Tilman’s previous pulpit was as second rabbi of the 850 family Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He has extensive experience leading Shabbat, Holiday, and weekday services, developing youth programming and working with religious school, and providing pastoral support to congregants in need.  Prior to becoming a rabbi, he worked for Sporting News Radio, and produced the Troy Aikman show and Around the NFL.  He is an avid sports fan, and once won on Sports Jeopardy.  The Tilmans are a great fit for CBI, and we look forward to growing spiritually with them in the coming years.

Safety and Security Committee – This committee, chaired by Steve Garsh, was created as a proactive response to current day security changes.  We felt that it was prudent to look at our policies and procedures, to ensure we continue to have a safe place to learn and to worship. 

As a result of their efforts, you will notice some changes in our High Holiday entrance procedure.  You probably have noticed that names are on the tickets this year, and will we will be checking tickets much more closely.  Admittance to CBI will be with a ticket only and via the entrance on Shalom Way.  Accordingly, if you are dropping off a family member and then entering the building afterwards, please ensure you take your ticket with you.  Furthermore, staff and/or hired security reserve the right to inspect all handbags and packages brought into the building.  To expedite your and other member’s entrance into the building, please refrain from bringing them into the building.

Our intent is not to make coming for the High Holidays inconvenient or add to the time to enter services, and we apologize if this happens.  We simply want to take whatever steps we can to help ensure a safe High Holiday season.

I am also proud to report that though the efforts of the Safety and Security committee, CBI was awarded a $75,000 Federal Non-Profit Security Grant.  This grant will reimbursed CBI over the next three years for specific security measures, e.g., reinforced doors, shatter resistant windows, upgraded camera based security system, etc.   Congratulations and thanks to the committee for the hard work they did to win this grant.

Inclusion Committee CBI is dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to all the Jewish community has to offer, despite any differences in development and ability.  The Inclusion Committee, chaired by Julie Steinberg, is working hard to ensure we meet this goal.  This year, the committee is piloting a “Quiet Room” at the JCC (Room #11), so children ages 2 – 12 who may find the holidays overwhelming will have a place to go to re-center themselves.   At this point, there is no quiet room at CBI; however, we have an outdoor patio and Kramer Part adjacent to the synagogue.  As always, both CBI and the JCC are handicapped accessible. 

New Initiative – Rebranding – We are in the process of standing up a committee to relook the CBI brand, including updating our website and revising all of our promotional materials. Given the fact that we have a new rabbi, and therefore a new direction, this seems like the right time to reconsider how we represent ourselves to our fellow congregants and to those outside of our CBI family.  More information to follow.

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 third 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, and we have received an award of $7000.  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 commitment for the future.  This will help ensure CBI stays a healthy, vibrant congregation for years to come.

Membership – Our synagogue family has continued to grow, and we had 14 new families join us this past year.  We are thrilled to welcome new members to CBI and we look forward to seeing everyone throughout the coming year.  Our membership committee, chaired by Jill Skibinsky and Melissa Liebermann, have a number of events in the works to help us get to know each other.

Religious School – With the increase in membership, we have had a corresponding increase in religious school enrollment.  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 a top-notch Jewish education for CBI youth.  If you have children in the religious school, you have already seen a number of emails describing the curricula and programs you and your children can expect to see.  We are looking forward to a great year in the religious school.

Office Staff – We are fortunate to have a dedicated office staff, committed to ensuring that CBI runs smoothly.  The staff is led by our Executive Director, Davida Berkowitz.  She, along with our bookkeeper Stacy Margaritondo,  Genevieve Isolda, and our custodian Jesus Funes, have been hard at work to make sure our congregants have an excellent experience during the High Holidays and throughout the year.

 Executive Board –Mitch Siegel has joined the executive board as Assistant Treasurer.  He joins executive vice president Jason Hoberman and Debbie Friedman, Aaron Kessler, Ira Bodenstein, Steve Garsh, Ruth Margolin, and Layne Oliff.  The CBI executive board, as well as the board of trustees, 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 all the best in 5778. 

L’Shanah Tovah!

Steve Wiener