By Joan Garson, President.
While this year has been one of physical renewal for our building as our Renewal Project becomes a reality, it has also seen, both in public and behind the scenes, enormous positive movement in other important aspects of Temple life. I will highlight some significant changes and achievements here. Each represents a commitment of time and creativity by lay leaders, clergy and staff, and each is intended to enrich our community. Taken together they represent heartfelt efforts and successful change, growth of our community as a whole, attention to both the biggest issues and the most personal concerns. There will be much more to come.
Here they are:
- We changed Our Membership Program for our youngest members, ages 19 to 30. We know we need to find new ways to connect with young professionals, and we hope that the individual memberships and the programs which these young professionals will enjoy together, represent opportunities which will be welcomed. These young people and their children are the future of our community and the reason for our Renewal. Watch for news of Angie Shiffman, the young staff member we have hired to extend our reach to this critical group.
- A very special program debuted this year: the Jewish Leadership Institute. Its 20 participants, largely from the young professional age group, addressed not only how Jewish values guide Jewish leadership, but how they contribute to success and fulfillment in their own business and professional lives.
- Our rabbis created New Chavurot. These groups are key building blocks for new relationships within our community. Chavurot are groups of 6-8 individuals or families that meet regularly to ‘do Jewish’ together. These monthly meetings can be at one of the member’s homes, at a park, or at an activity such as Havdallah and art (for the little ones) or inviting in a lecturer to lead a conversation. We hope to roll out a further three chavurot in the next year. Contact a rabbi if you are interested in being matched into a chavurah.
- We undertook a significant look at how we educate our children. The Youth Education Task Force, made up of congregants, rabbis, and staff, and supported by an experienced outside Jewish education professional, engaged in a process to guide the future direction of youth education at Holy Blossom Temple. Watch for more information about this key Task Force.
- Our Development Department is creating a new bequest program at the same time that it continues the vital work of our HBCA and fundraising for the Renewal Project.
- If you have been in the building for Shabbat services, or attended the Annual General Meeting, or shared in the farewell to the Courtyard or… you will have been warmly greeted by many Temple members. With their joyous welcomes, Our Greeters have changed the experience of our members and our visitors.
- We are welcoming new members in many new ways. With Our Navigator Program, a program in which current members connect with our newest members and walk them through their first few years of Temple membership, we hope to open the doors to our congregation for our new members, to ensure that each of them is quickly and effectively connected to programs and people, and so we can all benefit from their energy and ideas.
- We have taken a major step to Outreach to other Faiths, including the 3rd Seder which included aboriginal and native persons and a recent and highly successful Ramadan dinner, subsequently reported around the world.
- And we did this all with a Balanced Budget this year. This represents not simply fiscal responsibility and leadership by those responsible for our financial health, but most of all commitment to Holy Blossom and its future by every rejoining member. That commitment in turn creates a deep sense of responsibility which is shared by every lay leader, member of our clergy and professional staff member. All board meetings now begin with a special blessing for leaders: to engage faithfully in the needs of the community.
There are so many other new programs, and re-imaginings of existing programs, that I could just as easily have shared in this article. Together they represent an outburst of energy and optimism that is reshaping our lives together.
Holy Blossom Temple. Life can blossom here.