President's Message: September 2015
From the PresidentDear Friends,
As we enter this New Year at Congregation B’nai Shalom, we find ourselves in exciting times. High Holy Days will feel renewed with the introduction of a new prayer book. We’re launching our new Eitz Chayim (K– 6 grade) religious school program this year, and we are already seeing full classes and a great many of our post bar and bat mitzvah students registered for Chai School (7 –12 grade). We’re bringing new kinds of Adult learning opportunities to the community this year – more cultural programming, more in-depth learning, and some new interfaith programs will put CBS at the forefront of bridge-building with our wider community. Our youth group activities now extend from 2nd grade through 12th grade, as we bring Cheryl Pouliot onto our Youth team as our Family Educator. We are also bringing a renewed energy and approach to Social Action, centered around our congregation's adopted theme of ‘homelessness’.
All of these innovations and expansions in our offerings come with the goal of strengthening the relationships between all of our members, and defining our sense of purpose as a community of faith. Much of this has been based on what we have heard from our members. Now we are ready to take CBS to the next level. To do that, we need to hear from as many of you as possible in the community conversations that will lie at the heart of this year’s ‘Sustaining Our Visions’ (SOV) project. Our goal is to ensure that the sense of mission and vision for what we offer as a congregation is aligned with what our members tell us they and their families need from a Jewish community.
Additionally, we are looking at the practical side of ‘sustaining’ the vision that we create together. Financial matters are not a favorite topic for many people, yet we all know that healthy finances are critical to maintaining our synagogue and the worship, education, activities and sense of community found within its walls. This is not something that we are undertaking in a vacuum. Alternative financial models, and in particular alternative membership dues models, is a hot topic currently within the Reform movement. Two years ago, the Union for Reform Judaism launched a ‘Community of Practice,’ consisting of 18 Reform congregations across the country, to study and undertake new approaches to membership dues, fundraising and philanthropy. We will benefit from the experience of this group, which recently released a report entitled, “Reimagining Financial Support for your 21st Century Congregation.”
I encourage everyone at CBS to partner with the taskforce as it embarks on a series of conversations with congregants to set the vision for our congregation as we move toward our 40th Anniversary (in 2017), and help us create a financial model that will sustain us for the next 40 years and beyond. As we embark on this journey together, I ask for your continued support and generosity in our annual High Holiday Appeal. Toward the end of the last fiscal year we shared that we have urgent needs to attend to that require significant capital expenditure as our building ages. We are facing some major repairs to the building that can no longer be deferred. Our roof, carpet, HVAC system and parking lot need your help. Our goal this year is to raise $15,000. Please contribute as you are able — every donation is valued and valuable.
Shanah Tovah and best wishes to all for a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year.