BA Rosh Hashanah Tikotavu BA Yom Tzom Kippur Tichotamu. On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. These ten days also called the days of Awe are unique to our Jewish Religion and our belief system. They denote our Jewish identity. I was reminded of my Jewish identity during a trip to Poland and Israel this past summer with CJP #Heritage and Hope. There were 15 of us all from the Boston area that ranged in age from 28 – 40 all eager to finally see what we all learned in school, read in books, seen in documentaries and movies. There was not one part of Poland that stood out more than visiting two concentration camps Majdanek and Auschwitz. Having walked through the gas chambers, seen pictures on the wall of men and woman that would never leave Auschwitz or the collection of hair on display I could not help but think we need to continue to build the Temple Etz Chaim Community. While we have struggled over the years to meet ends meet and seen our membership decline, I want us to be a stronger community. We have the chance to build a Jewish community that can certainly thrive in the Franklin area. What does it mean to be a Jewish Community? You can take part in Friday night Shabbat service, be involved in your child’s Jewish Education, and find out what our various committees our doing so that we can all come together. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust came a new beginning and the Jewish religion was not destroyed. Generation after generation have continued to pray just as we are today in synagogues like ours asking for forgiveness for our sins and praying for a sweet new year. I like to end with a story. The grand Rabbi was coming to town and all the people wanted to welcome and celebrate. To celebrate his coming, they decided to put wine in a big vat for him. The vat was covered so no one could see inside and the people brought their cups of wine at night to fill the vat. The day finally arrived when the grand rabbi entered the town. He lifted up the lid to the vat and he was shocked. The vat was filled with just water. The moral of the story is that we all must participate and we all must participate in the building of our Jewish community here at Temple Etz Chaim. L’shanah Tovah Tikatevu. A happy and health sweet new year.
“A Righteous man falls down seven times and gets up” King Solomon Proverbs, 24:16. Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you've fallen down. The Torah defines someone who's righteous not as someone who had succeeded, but someone who has persevered. It creates a paradigm of what righteousness is – trying to do what's right, getting up from failure, and keep moving forward. Charlie Harary
That is exactly what we are going to do is move forward. Over the next year I want you to think about your community. Rather than say where is the new building or why can’t the temple afford this or that focus on what we have. If you are not happy with something in our community become involved and see what you can do to help make it grow. This is what my theme is going to be for the next year. I want to see Temple Etz Chiam strive and continue to grow, but we can’t do that sitting on the side lines. I believe if we come together we will have a community that will continue to feel as welcoming as we are today, but also one that has a stronger bond with the Jewish community we live in today. I am not saying it will be easy, but I know we can do it. We can grow our membership, we can raise money that will provide for our temple. In a year from now when we all meet for the next annual meeting, I want to be able to stand here and say what we were able to accomplish. This has already started by having a balanced budget and great people who have volunteered their time to be part of the Board of Directors or one of the committees. Talk to those people and if you have a great idea become involved. I thank you for coming tonight and make sure to talk to the congregants who were not here and let them know Temple Etz Chiam is here to stay.
Snow, Snow everywhere...
As I write this, we are expecting another 14” of the white stuff, hard to believe when it is so sunny now...
Why am I writing about snow? Because snow removal is one of the temple expenses, along with all the other expenses of owning a house. I’m often asked what items make up the temple budget. While some seem obvious, such as staff salaries, others are not so easily viewed. Heating and lighting are two such “invisible” expenses, as are office supplies, the mortgage, kitchen supplies, dues for membership in the URJ, and rental of space at our various venues. Absolutely everything the temple uses must be paid for somehow.
We are still experiencing a serious budget shortfall, despite cutting expenses, and generous donations. At present we are still looking at selling our building, and moving into a space with fewer expenses, one that may house most of our functions under one roof, including religious school and B’nei Mitzvah.
On the other half of the equation, raising money, we are planning a gala fundraiser. The details of this event are wide open. If you would like to get in on the ground floor of planning this event, please email me. If you have any other fund raising/cost cutting ideas, please email me with these as well.
Despite the winter, a lot has been going on at the temple:
Our realtor has been busy, we have had several showings already, some of which she describes as “promising”. More to come on this.
The choir has been busily practicing for Shabbat Shira, and we are looking forward once again to a night of beautiful music on January 30, at FUSF.
The Brotherhood and Sisterhood continue to be active with all sorts of event from bowling nights to sushi lessons.
The knitzvah group has been busy as well, knitting our own projects, and learning from each other.
Religious school is in full swing, as students return from vacation, and get ready to learn again.
Plans are underway for the Purim Spiel and second night community Seder.
Zumba is meeting regularly at the Temple building.
And of course, there are services every Friday night, and Torah study on Saturday mornings.
With all this, it hardly seems that there would be time to do anything else.
Yet, the board has been exploring various fund raising ideas, to help our financial situation. The education committee is busy planning for the end of this year and next year. RAC is already thinking ahead to the next high holidays. The finance committee has already begun thinking about next year’s budget.
If you would like to get involved, there are many ways to do so. Choose a group from the list above, and call or email one of the people involved (or me, if you don’t know who) to find out what you can do to help. If you have ideas not covered here, please let me know, we can always use new ideas and fresh insights. Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or catch me at an oneg, or other event. We have many opportunities to get together, and stay warm this winter
It’s hard to believe, but as I write this, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. It will be a fond memory by the time you read this, and that means Hanukkah will be approaching. With that comes the end of the year, and the board has promised to make a recommendation as to what should happen with the temple building at 900 Washington Street by that time.
There have been two committees formed, one to look at selling the building, and one to look at where we might go. Both committees have been hard at work, and we have had some developers express interest in the property. We have also been actively exploring other locations for the temple. As soon as we have enough information, we will pass it on, this will likely involve another meeting, like the one last December, and I hope that we have as much active participation as we had then.
There is no doubt that the past two years have been difficult ones for our temple community, and we have been faced with difficult decisions. What stands out for me is the way our community pulls together to face these challenges head on. I am grateful for the many times people have pulled me aside, and asked about what is going on. It shows that people care. In addition, many of those who were at the meeting last December took the initiative to become more involved as a result.
- Grace Kooper