Today is January 19, 2020 -

President’s Corner: How We Can Help Beth El Grow in 5780

by Jay Gordman, President of the Board of Trustees

As the High Holy Days quickly approach, many of us review the past year and begin to look at opportunities to grow in the coming year.

Our Board of Trustees has been working on the same process of evaluating what we accomplished last year, and looking at how we can help the congregation grow in 5780.

Community and Relationship Building
One of our primary goals this past year was to reestablish an approach to synagogue activities and programming. This approach is to look for shared interests and develop opportunities for these groups to come together.

The most critical component of this process was to hire a program and engagement leader who can anchor this effort for many years. At this point, many of you have had an opportunity to meet Robby Erlich, our Engagement Coordinator.

Robby has been working with our lay leaders to engage groups of champions who can help develop programming for a specific group. One example is the relaunch of our men’s programming. A group of guys got together over chicken wings and libations to develop several great programs that started this summer and will continue throughout the year. When the guys reach out to invite you, join us!

Robby’s next effort will be to develop a group of empty nesters for programming opportunities. This diverse group will need several champions. When he calls to have coffee with you, say yes and share your thoughts.

Building and Grounds

We have an aging building that does not fully support the ritual, programming and security needs today and into the future. Several committees worked with the team at RDG Planning & Design to create a new vision of the building to support us for years to come.

It is our vision to create a functional space that will enable Beth El to be a center of Jewish life and learning for future generations. At the heart of our plan is our membership. It is our goal to create a space that meets the religious, social, educational and security needs of our congregation both today and into the future. Our plans call for a building that is inclusive of all abilities and presents two reimagined sacred spaces for prayer, study and community building.

In the end, our ultimate legacy will be to design a space that welcomes our grandchildren, yet honors our grandparents.

Look for more details and congregational meetings in the coming months.

Religious Engagement

While the plans for an updated building are exciting, it would all be just an empty space if we don’t engage our congregation, especially on Shabbat and holidays.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, most of us don’t follow the commandment to observe Shabbat. We get caught up in busy lives and occasionally come to services when we have a reason to.

We all deserve to take a day off from our busy lives and just live in the moment. Shabbat is the opportunity to give ourselves a break.

Rabbi and Hazzan have done a great job of creating meaningful alternative Shabbat experiences to complement our services. Additionally, many congregants have been involved in new services like Six String Shabbat and Shabbat B’Yachad.

This year’s focus is to look at the entirety of our Shabbat offerings and fine tune it to encourage more congregants to come more often. We will continue to maintain and enhance our traditional service, while also offering new and different experiences for our congregants.


As many of you know, while we initially had success with an outsourced bookkeeping company, they could not truly support our needs. Allison Newfeld, Miriam Gottlieb and Joel Rich worked together to find a new internal bookkeeper. We are excited to welcome Sandra Palmer. Sandra, Miriam and Allison are hard at work re-establishing our in-house bookkeeping and billing process. They are even working on newer features that will provide better statements and online access over the next several months.

Strategic Planning

I have to admit up front, I am not a big fan of traditional strategic planning. The thought of creating a plan that sits on a shelf only to get dusted off every so often is not my thing.

Ari Kohen and our Strategic Planning Team have come up with a different approach that will help us create a 5-year plan that we use every single month in our board of trustees meetings. This will be a very active plan with clear objectives and measurable outcomes, so we know that we are making progress.

One of the most important elements is to get a pulse of our congregants. A survey tool will be used along with several congregational meetings to gather feedback and learn about your needs.

By spring we will be excited not only to share the 5-year plan but also announce the next year’s goals that will help us begin to move towards our vision.

We Need You

We have a busy year coming up with many exciting priorities. This will all be for nothing if our congregants don’t take an active role.

Join us and take advantage of the opportunities to participate, make a difference and feed your soul!