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From Our President - URJ Heller High

This time of year marks some significant annual milestones in the life of our congregation. We come to the end of our fiscal year, hold our annual meeting to present the state of the congregation and to elect a new board of officers and directors. In a normal year we would also hold our annual breakfast to honor our volunteers.

This year, we had to do things a little differently — ok, a lot differently — and that was not all a bad thing. It forced us to become even more creative, to understand more clearly what mattered to congregants, and how to meet those needs in new ways. It gave us the freedom and opportunity to try things we never would have otherwise undertaken: Shabbat at home, online school, Shabbat in the Lot, experiential outdoor programs, online High Holy Day services, Zoom shiva minyans, virtual choirs, student multi-media presentations, and on and on. Many of these we will be glad to never do again, but there were many positive elements that we will want to integrate and continue.

We were able to safely accomplish what we did because of the incredible effort and expertise of the people in this community. The level of talent, commitment, energy, and dedication in this Congregation is amazing. Read through the annual report and you will get a glimpse of the work done by the clergy, staff, volunteers, and Board that enable us to function so well. To say I am honored and privileged to have had the experience of working with you is an understatement. To every one of you, a huge “Thank You.”

The clergy, soloists, and staff of Congregation B’nai Shalom worked incredibly hard this year. It is hard to appreciate just how much more work it took to plan and execute all that was done to accommodate the pandemic.

Executive Director Steve Winer has worked tirelessly to keep the office, the building, the programming, and the committees running smoothly. His assistance to the rabbis, the school, me, to everyone was invaluable, and I honestly cannot imagine having gone through this year without his support.

Rabbi Eiduson and his team have done an absolutely amazing job with the school this year building new programs and finding new ways to keep students engaged and involved. The magnitude of the effort was staggering. There is no way to describe the level of organization and planning this required. It has been worth it though. I have heard over and over from parents how pleased they have been that their students have been engaged and involved this year.

While there is no question that this has all been a team effort, special recognition is due Rabbi Gurevitz. She has held her foot fully on the throttle since the first leadership meeting when it became apparent what was coming with COVID-19. She saw to pastoral care personally and through the CBS Cares teams as the initial shock of isolation set in. She created new service material for Zoom Shabbat services. She held focus groups to determine what congregants felt were the essential elements of High Holy Days services, and worked with Rabbi Joe, and soloists Sharon and Lisa to craft new online experiences based on what was learned. She repeated this creative effort for every festival throughout the year — each had to be rethought and crafted to work in the current environment. Each had to be fresh, interesting, and new. Rabbi Gurevitz became a master of Zoom, learning the intricacies of using it to choreograph engaging B’nai Mitzvah services that brought remote guests into the sanctuary to participate and share their excitement. The never-ending stream of creativity and innovation has been dazzling. I can only paint the tip of the iceberg here. We are truly blessed by her gifts, and it has been an honor and experience like no other in my life to have traveled this journey alongside her. I am looking forward to Rabbi Gurevitz being able to take the well-deserved sabbatical she postponed last year.

I speak and write a lot about our volunteers — with good reason. There are two driving forces that make Congregation B’nai shalom the special place that it is. The paid and the volunteers. We are blessed with strength on both fronts.

I’d like to thank our outgoing board members, Andrew Shaw, Laurie Fromer, and Simon Davis for their service, ideas, support, and thoughtful debate. You made CBS stronger with your contributions.

A special thanks is due our outgoing Past-President Rob Blumberg. We learned much from you and your leadership that will help to carry us forward. Thank you.


Welcome and thank you to our incoming President-Elect, Judy Kalman. I expect you will find this honor to be even more rewarding and meaningful than you imagine.

Thank you to our officers, Allison Orenstein, Cheryl Kasof, Karen Rothman, Laura King, Heidi Swanick, and Mike Manning.
Thank you to our continuing board members, Barbara Govendo, Carole Grayson, Phil Leavitt, Emily Sandhahl, Stephen Boardman, Julie McCoy, Matt Wein, and Wendy Zingher.

Welcome to our new board members, Amy Rosenberg, Peter Sutton, and Elaine Solomon. I hope you find the experience as rewarding as I have and I am sincerely looking forward to working with you.

Special thanks are also due this year to the members of our Covid Task Force for guiding us safely through the pandemic. Skillfully led and managed by Glenn Randall, this team of professionals from the fields of medicine, law, building, and communications, made functioning possible for us this year.

Our Finance team, led by Larry Samberg, had additional challenges this year with all the unknowns and changes the pandemic presented to us on the financial front. Thanks to the whole team for keeping our finances so well organized.

Thanks go to the CBS Cares team, who launched a novel plan to connect with members, particularly those alone and isolated, this past year.
Our new Marketing and Communications team, chaired by Peter Sutton, jumped in to teach leadership how to better communicate at a time when we had SO much new information we had to get out. Thank you. We could not have done it without you.

Thank you to Eileen Samberg who, for years, has produced this bulletin every month. My apologies for making the task harder by getting my articles to you at the last minute.

Thank you to the Ritual Committee, led by Natalie Rudolph. Their role this year was also made harder by the pandemic as they worked with clergy to find ways to make ritual work online.

The Green Team paused their efforts to make our facilities more environmentally friendly but remained active sponsoring online meetings. Thank you for your important work.

Some committees and teams we limited in what they could do this past year, and we now see them coming forward with renewed energy to move forward as we come out of the pandemic. Among them are Membership, Social Action, Sisterhood, and PTO. Thank you.

Brotherhood was able to hold weekly gatherings on Zoom with topics and discussions of Interest. Thank you for keeping community together in a year when we needed it most.

A personal thank you to my technology partner this past year, Alex Tannenbaum. I could not have made it through the year without your help and knowledge. The entire congregation is indebted to you for efforts.

Lastly, apologies and thank you to anyone I missed. Your contributions are valued even if my accounting is flawed. Thank you, thank you.
Congregation B’nai Shalom has been here this year, as always, to help us make sense of the world around us, to provide a place of spiritual respite and community, to help us grieve, and to join us in celebration, to entertain us, to teach us, to carry our story from generations past to generations future. We could not have done that without the contributions of so many of you.

L’shalom,
Steven Goldstein
President
president@cbnaishalom.org

 

Mon, June 14 2021 4 Tammuz 5781