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President's Message: Re'eh

Dear friends, This week's Parsha, Re’eh, touches on many different topics. We learn about the rewards of following the commandments and the cost of not, sacrifices, false idols, kosher animals, tithes, charity, and the laws of  Shmita, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.  While the topics are many, the take home message is simple: be good and get rewarded ... don’t behave well and suffer the consequences. Rabbi Sacks goes further, not only advocating to be good, but more so to create a moral society, for all to do good. He believes a moral society lifts all people, and that is what 'doing good’ really means.  It's our job to push the idea of the moral society, which applies equally to nations as to small communities. We are all responsible for each other, to help, to welcome, and to accommodate. Full text here and it's a good one. • • •  A moral society requires transparency. Without trust and understanding, divisions arise.  In this spirit ... I've had the pleasure of speaking to many congregants about different issues, and there must be others with the same questions or concerns, so this information can reach everyone. I'll start this week with two questions I’ve been asked over the past few weeks.  First, what does the Board do? According to the bylaws, the purpose of the Board is simply to keep Congregation B'nai Avraham open.   It is the Board’s responsibility to make sure that the synagogue is financially stable, its bills are paid and its doors stay open. The income that keeps the building functioning, and the employees of CBA and the Hebrew school paid, is raised by Congregation B’nai Avraham through membership, donations to Congregation B’nai Avraham, the dinner, appeals, and the rent we now receive from Kiddie Korner. While sisterhood and Chabad raise money and arrange sponsors to pay for the events they run, the physical space is provided by CBA. Sisterhood uses money it's raised for important projects within the Shul, such as the new mechitzah; Chabad arranges lectures and shabbatonim as well as the children’s programs on the chagim that add to the warmth and spirit that make our Shul special. But the financial obligations of the Shul building are borne solely by the CBA board.  We are charged with maintaining the books, making sure a safe and legally compliant environment exists, and assuring that the synagogue continues as an Orthodox shul. We have been standardizing the budget and ensuring transparency in synagogue’s spending. We are trying to define job descriptions and responsibilities as well as fair compensation standards, and are recruiting staff to reduce the burden on the Rabbi and Shternie. We are streamlining the kiddush system, and we are working to formalize the relationship with Kiddie Korner, as our fiscal responsibility to Congregation B'nai Avraham requires. We are also reviewing security requirements for the building and paying for the repairs and improvements that the building requires.  In addition to all of this, the Board is also going beyond its responsibilities to create events for the Shul members, to create more opportunities for community, following in the footsteps of the B'nai Avraham Sisterhood and Chabad. Our new website helps us communicate events and information to those to have involvement with us.  We listen to the requests from congregants on how to improve the governance of the Shul. The idea of a code of conduct, for example, originated when several congregants approached Board members about the need for a written code and a delineated action plan. The Board has discussed every request that has been made to a Board member or officer. We’ve tried to be responsive to all, and we are still discussing several items. We also look to other shuls and organizations to see how others have dealt with these issues. The Board represents the members and that’s how we see ourselves. We don’t always agree ... in fact, often times we don't. But getting nine people in a room is easier than 120, and all board members take this responsibility very seriously. Second, about the new office manager. Yonatan Nigen is our part time office manager.  He has been assisting the Rabbi over the past several weeks. He was hired after being interviewed and approved by both Board members and the Rabbi. He was the candidate that best fit the job and budget requirements. As the school year begins, his hours will change, and we will continue to monitor to determine if the time he can give is sufficient or if changes need to be made. While the Rabbi's workload is his primary responsibility, as office manager, he is also available for other office jobs that CBA may require. You may hear from him about kiddushes or other shul functions. If you see him around, please say hi! Our next hire will be a building manager; the chain of responsibility and the hours actually needed in the shul are still being ironed out.  • • • As we get closer to the High Holidays, please remember to pay your dues, if you haven't already. Membership assures your seats in the tent for the Holidays. Renew your membership here. Equally important, dues allow us to pay our bills. Your generosity is always greatly appreciated. May all of those requiring a refuah shlema in our community and families have a speedy and full recovery. Our best wishes go out especially to Phil Kamaras and his wonderful daughter Sarah, for a complete and successful outcome. Wishing all of you a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tova. Steven Inker

Sun, May 26 2024 18 Iyyar 5784