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Message from the President: Yitro

The weekly Parsha always has relevant lessons for us. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them, but in Parshat Yitro it jumped right out at me. 

While this Parsha contains the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments, arguably the most important event in Jewish history, the Parsha is not named for this event. Rather, it is named for Moses' father-in-law, who came to recognize the power and omnipotence of G-d but who, one could argue, was not in the same league as the Ten Commandments.

So why does Yitro get top billing? Yitro came, watched Moses, gave his advice and left. What was this advice, this great contribution to Moses, and the continuity of Jewish leadership? He taught Moses to delegate. To find people to help with interpreting laws and solving problems, so that the nation could function.

• • •
This week we had our first working Board meeting of 2022, and the theme was (you guessed it) delegation.  

Committees are being set up to tackle a number of topics, and will report prior to the March board meeting. Unfortunately, the Rabbi was not able to be present at the meeting, but I discussed all of the issues and deliberations with him shortly afterward. 
The topics are:
    • Security improvements in the face of increasing Antisemetic attacks.
    • Planning our events – how all the people who work on this can share ideas and communicate better.
    • Membership types and levels, keyed to different budgets and needs.
    • Staffing – relieving day-to-day tasks the Rabbi and Shternie are handling, improving shul accounting practices, and formalizing our arrangment with the Shabbos Baal Koreh, Rabbi David Shushan.
     • Elections – seeing if there are ways we can improve how they are conducted.
    • Non-halachic ritual standing committee to assist the Rabbi and congregation. 
    • Job descriptions and expectations of the shul leadership, at the recommendation of the Rabbi.
This is a lot to accomplish, but it begins here. Any members interested in working on one (or more) committees are welcome. You can always contact me, or any Board member or officer to get involved.   

The minutes for the previous meeting will be made available to synagogue members shortly. (The minutes from this week's meeting will be sent out after they are approved at the next Board meeting.)
As always, if you have any suggestions or concerns, please contact me at  (or text or WhatsApp me at 917-620-8762) and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Wishing you all a safe and meaningful Shabbos,
Steven Inker

Rabbi Raskin's video: Yitro

Message from the President: Beshallach

Dear Friends, 

I've been thinking a lot about Amalek recently (we just finished the tractate of Megillah in Daf Yomi). 

Between Purim and Pesach we read Parshat Zachor that teaches us to remember what Amalek (and by tradition, Haman) did to us, to never forget them, and to erase them from the face of the earth. Amalek also features in this week's Parsha of Beshallach. 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z"l wonders why, after spending three Parshiot learning about how bad the Egyptians are, it is not Egypt that will be erased from the earth, but rather Amalek ... a desert nation that the Israelites had little to do with. Why? 

Rabbi Sacks explains that Egypt had a valid reason to fear the Israelites; we were outnumbering them. Amalek simply attacked us because they saw us as weak. It was an attack out of cruelty, out of a simple desire to win. There are times when battles need to be fought––to correct wrongs, to achieve greater good. We need to be vigilant that the battles we choose are true and warranted, and not just a path to dominate for the sake of domination. 

Rabbi Sacks also notes that the 40-year wandering path the Israelites took through the desert allowed them to arrive at the banks of the Jordan as a better people, more committed to G-d and Torah and more willing to go forth to embrace their destiny.  Similarly, we should avoid shortcuts. Things that are worth doing are worth doing well, regardless of how hard they are. The result is what counts.

• • •

On that note, we have a Board meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17 (the agenda is attached below). I hope to begin the process of addressing some of the issues that have arisen in our Shul over the past few years. My wish is to ensure that all viewpoints are represented. This will not necessarily be easy or quick, but things have to be discussed and debated to see how they should be changed. I'd like to get committees set up to provide feedback well before the March board meeting. It’s equally important is to improve systems that are working well. Please contact me to recommend other issues for the agenda, either at this meeting or the next one, in March. My email and phone number are below.

• • • 

This week is Tu B'Shvat and we have two great programs scheduled. 

Sisterhood is hosting a zoom presentation (for both men and women) at 7:30 PM on Sunday with Michal Osman, Tik Tok Europe’s head of company culture, about navigating the world of anxieties; info here.

And CTeens is having a teen paint party at 11AM on Sunday for 7th graders and up (rsvp here).

• • •

As always, please reach out to me with any issues. All constructive ideas as well as criticisms are welcome. You can email me at  (or text or whatsapp me at 917-620-8762) and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Wishing you all a meaningful and peaceful Shabbos

Steven Inker 



• Tzedakah

• Approval of annual meeting minutes

• Approval of officer appointments meeting minutes

• Rabbi’s report

• Treasurer’s report

• Medical committee update

• New business

• Synagogue Staffing 

• Allocation of funds 

• Programming committee reassessment

• Voting protocol committee 

• Job descriptions

Committees updates should be sent to the President and Vice President within 6 weeks, to be reviewed and sent to the Board prior to the March board meeting, where they can be voted on.

• Other business

• Adjournment

DONE: Tu B'Shvat Book Discussion Sunday, January 16

All are welcome to join this exclusive Zoom webinar with Michal Oshman for an evening of education, awareness, and actual tips and tools to help us combat anxiety and live a life filled with purpose! Hoted by the Sisterhood.

Michal Oshman is Head of Company Culture, Diversity and Inclusion at TikTok Europe, and was formerly responsible for international leadership and team development at Facebook. Throughout her career, Michal has trained and coached hundreds of tech leaders. She served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and has three university degrees in psychodynamic and systemic thinking, sociology, and anthropology. Michal lives with her husband and their children in London, UK. 

The event is free, but with a $36 sponsorship you will receive a free copy of Michal's best selling book: What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid: Discover A Life Filled With Purpose And Joy Through The Secrets Of Jewish Wisdom.

Click here to join.

Message from the President: Bo

Dear Friends,

This week's Parsha – Parshat Bo –  begins with the last three plagues and continues with the exodus from Egypt. The Parsha includes all of the stories and the basis for the laws of Pesach. We’ve all learned the literal explanation for eating matzah: there was no time, in the haste to leave Egypt, for the bread to rise. 

Our Sages learn a deeper lesson from the unleavened bread. Leavening is associated with pride. Eating unleavened bread brings us back to the basics. It reminds us to be humble. The Jews who left Egypt needed this lesson to keep them aware that the miracles happening to them were not of their own doing, but Divine intervention. We today also have a lesson to learn from the matzah. We also need to be humble. We are not over anyone else, we need to listen to others and none of us have all the answers.

• • •

Humbling experiences and not having all of the answers is a good description of my first week as President. In addition to appointing Ellen Kamaras as Vice President and Celia Weintrob as Secretary, the Board also had to choose a new Treasurer after Deborah Ehrenberg's decision to step down. Deborah had suggested Steven Zucker as her replacement, a decision that was embraced unanimously by the Board. I am happy to report that Steve has tentatively agreed to serve. We are also working on hiring a bookkeeper to assist him, and  a secretary/office manager to assist the Rabbi, relieving him of much of the day to day tasks dealing with the Shul building and practical issues. Some other ideas in the pipeline include Rosh Chodesh BBQs, as soon as it gets a little warmer out, and a committee to review our voting protocols.

The decision was made to schedule Board meetings for the third Monday of the month at 8:45 every other month, beginning Jan 17. The minutes of the annual meeting as well as the brief meeting to appoint officers will be approved at that meeting and will then be shared with the membership. I will be sharing the agenda prior to the meeting. 

I have started meeting individually with members who have reached out to me, and I will continue to meet as well as invite other members to share their concerns with me. Whether I reach out to you or not, please contact me if you have anything on your mind or any ideas you may have. All constructive ideas as well as criticisms are welcome.

You can email me at (or text or WhatsApp me at 917-620-8762) and I will get back to you as soon I can. 

Wishing all of you all a meaningful and peaceful Shabbos,

Steve Inker  

Thu, January 27 2022 25 Shevat 5782