It is a pleasure to give you my Annual “State of the Shul” report as President of the shul.
This past year was a wonderful year for our shul. I want to take a few minutes to hit the highlights and give you a sense of the goals we would like to accomplish in the year to come. Most importantly, I want to emphasize how important each and every one of you is to achieving these goals.
In preparing my remarks, I took the opportunity to revisit the newsletter issues from the past year. The editor-inchief, Robin Walker, and her production team of Harold and Sybil Binder, Beri Gilfix, and Tim Knight, have done a terrific job and they deserve a Yasher koach for their ongoing efforts. Thank you!
You may recall that one of the major goals that I set forth last year was the hiring of a part-time office manager. I am pleased to report that Melissa Frank began working in that capacity in September, 2007. Melissa sends out the weekly e-mail bulletins and reminders to volunteers, coordinates maintenance at the shul, sends out donation acknowledgments, and assists other volunteers with projects. Melissa has also played a vital role in the migration of a dedicated software system that will help deliver our financial operation into the 21st century. One of the biggest, and perhaps most important, roles that Melissa is engaged in is grant writing and fundraising. Working together with Meir Lakein, Melissa has identified, drafted, and submitted three grants in the past several months. We continue to seek out other funding opportunities and Melissa will stay intimately involved in that process.
In addition to hiring Melissa, we upgraded the shul office with a brand new computer, printer/fax, and internet access. This investment is paying dividends on a daily basis as we streamline our operations and communication with membership and volunteers.
Another one of our infrastructural upgrades has been the shul’s website. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Jordan Wagner, the website now offers more content, opportunity to interact, sponsor events, pay bills, and keep abreast of ongoing community events. Thank you, Jordan, for a terrific effort.
Since becoming president of the shul two years ago, one of my main goals has been to forge better communication and programming with the other orthodox synagogues in our community. I am proud to note that we are actively engaged in community-wide programming with Shaarei Tefillah, Beth-El, and Young Israel of Brookline. Among the annual events that we now proudly co-sponsor are the Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut programs (Holocaust Memorial Day, Israeli Memorial Day, and Israel Independence Day programs) We also forged a marriage of sorts between our shul and Shaarei Tefillah, when we formed a combined Adams Street-Shaarei softball team this past spring. Team members had a great time together, and I look forward to next year’s season!
Among the very successful events at the shul this year were the Tribute to Lockie Milner, the Friday Night Community Shabbat Dinner, the Guedalia Fleer event, and our annual Chanukah party. I want to thank Beri Gilfix, Beth Drapkin, Nechama Cheses, Rivka Shamrakova, and Sarah Boling for organizing those events. We couldn’t have done it without you.
You might recall that three years ago we were the fortunate recipients of a Membership Growth Grant. These funds were used to hire Rabbi Weinberg and implement programs to spark membership growth. I am delighted to tell you that the grant has been extremely successful. Just this year alone, we have had more than 10 new member units join the shul, and new people are visiting the shul regularly.
I am also most happy to share with you news that we have successfully extended Rabbi Weinberg’s contract. This is a hugely positive and encouraging development for the life of the shul, and gives us the ability to continue in the positive directions we have been heading. I have to embarrass Rabbi Weinberg a bit and say that at no time during the Board’s discussions about extending his contract did I hear anything but praise and admiration for him. The community loves you and Susan, and we are thrilled that you will continue to lead us for the next few years! A very special thank you to Steve Cantor and David Sloane, who were instrumental in facilitating this process.
Most importantly, we are able to accomplish our goals while remaining financially responsible and solvent. The Board has been working diligently to establish mechanisms to secure the rabbinic position. A long-term approach to deal with this was to establish our Rabbinic Growth Fund. The goal of this fund is to accumulate sufficient funds that will ultimately generate income to pay for the rabbinic contract. The short-term approach involved increasing membership dues over the next several years, and instituting a one-time membership assessment. It is critically important that we all honor our obligations and embrace this opportunity to safeguard the wonderful changes that have occurred since Rabbi Weinberg has joined our community. This is a communal effort, and we need 100% participation, as we all will benefit from the renewal of spirit at the shul.
Finally, I am very pleased to share with you all that we are the proud beneficiary of a wonderful donation -- our shul will be receiving a brand new Torah in the next few weeks. This is a major cause for celebration! Rabbi Weinberg will be working with Beri Gilfix and myself to coordinate the festivities which are currently planned for September.
And finally, as we enjoy our lazy days of summer, we can look forward to another High Holiday season punctuated by the wonderful voices and spirit of Cantor Yehuda Gutwein, Rabbinic-intern Noah Cheses, and Rabbi Weinberg.