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Yom Kippur Appeal

(Benita Felmus' speech from Yom Kippur services, September 19, 2018)

It is wonderful to see you all and share the holidays together.  Thank you to Rabbi and Cantor for incredibly moving and inspiring services for the High Holidays.

For the past three years, the lay leadership, along with our beloved clergy, have been working toward creating a sense of community for our congregation.  If you look around, I believe we are beginning to feel the impact of creating this sense of community.

Over the last year, we continue to take actions to move toward our vision:  

Our Hebrew begins this Sunday, as long as there is no predicted hurricane, with a student body of over 90 students.  Thank you to Ramona Brand for her leadership and those of you who have referred families to Beth-El for their children’s Jewish education.

I hope you have had the opportunity to meet Cantor Rosenblatt.  We are thrilled to have her as part of our clergy.  Mark your calendars now for Friday evening, November 2nd, when we will celebrate Cantor’s Installation.  I look forward to seeing you all here.

Our Havarah Program has been a great success, bringing members of our Beth-El Community together for Shabbat dinner and conversation.  The third year of this program is approaching.  Sign up ends this Friday. Click here to sign up. 

The office bookkeeping moved to Kesef, which has allowed for more consistent data, billing and dues collection and improved our fiscal management.  We also implemented ShulCloud to improve communications, reservation making and work flow for those involved in Temple operations.

A special thanks to Faith Kallman, Norma Fiedler, Krista Fidlow, Josephine Harris, Hannah Imburg and Chris Muffo for all the hard work they do behind the scenes.  

Please become a member of Sisterhood and Men’s Club.  They are the life blood of our community.  Email Sisterhood at TBESisterhood1@gmail.com   and Men's Club at  templebethelmensclub@gmail.com.

At the Annual meeting in May we had a frank and open discussion about resources, finances and physical space.

I am happy to stand here today to share a much-improved financial outlook.  Currently, our Line of Credit has a zero balance. The generosity of the Congregation during the Passover Pledge combined with Sisterhood’s loan have allowed us to maintain that zero balance for well over 60 days, and we are paying back Sisterhood on an agreed schedule.  

But I have a story to share which may result in a further improvement to the financial stability of our Beth-El Community.  Just after the May 2017 Annual meeting, three separate and distinct parties approached the Temple to purchase the 5.3 acres of wooded land between our Religious School and The Montessori School.  As you enter our property from Parham Road this is the parcel which sits to the right of the driveway.  It currently sits idle and is not included in any potential plans we might have for expanding Beth-El’s presence on Parham Road.  

These offers exceeded all previous offers we have been presented with for all 16 acres, including the building we own on Parham Road.  I am happy to share that after several months of negotiations and 90 days of due diligence, it appears that the potential buyer of the land will be going through the zoning process to build a Senior Housing project on that piece of property.  If the zoning is approved, which we will know by January 2019, we will sell the 5.3 acres of our 16 acres.  I want to say again, the sale of the land will not affect whether we could add to Parham or revamp the campus.  At present I can’t tell you how much we are selling the land for nor can I disclose who is buying the land.  But I can say they are a reputable group who been vetted by the Site Committee.

So, if the zoning is approved and the sale closes, we will have the flexibility to make selective investments for the Temple and our Community.  For example: These dollars will allow us to do renovations to this beautiful building to make it function better for our needs and improve its mechanical and physical space.

If you have noticed the warmth in the Entry or upstairs in the hall or the chilliness in the Sanctuary, it’s because 2 units of the 4 aren’t working.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have new units and remove that concern? 

We may even be able to put monies aside in our Endowment to help supplant the operating budget each year.

When and if the zoning hurdle is overcome, we plan on holding focus groups to get everyone’s input for the improvements and goals for the rehab of the building.  We will start with the list our congregation created during the visioning committee work. At the top of that list is a handicapped bathroom on this floor, easier access into the building, and more comfortable and flexible seating.

I hope you will support this decision to sell just a part of our land at Parham Road that we are not using, and provide the Congregation the opportunity to make strategic investments into our facilities while supporting on-going operations.   This decision was not made lightly or with a small group of people.  The Site Committee, Executive and Board have all been a part of this work and believe we are being good stewards of our assets.

Zoning signs will be going up soon, and I wanted everyone to know what was happening and why this decision was made.

Now, I wish I could tell you that if the zoning is approved, and the sale goes through, that all the Temple’s financial needs will be solved, but that is not the case.  To continue all the great projects, programs and classes, it takes all of us to support our community.  Whether physically or financially, your support is needed. 

May you be written in the book of life.  Happy and Healthy New Year to all.

Yom Kippur Appeal 2018
in support of Temple Beth-El
Thank you for your donation!  Any amount, large or small, is instrumental in the continued success of the synagogue. Your donation is fully tax deductible.

Site Committee Members
Marc Greenberg, Jimmy Plotkin, Hilton Rubin, John Levy, Ben Lewis, Brian Imburg, John Jay Schwartz, Josh Peck, Ari Hirsch, Marsha Feldstein, Benita Felmus, Reid Cardon, Sandy Sisisky, Faith Kallman and Rabbi Knopf

Executive Committee Members
Benita Felmus, Chris Greenberg, Michael Hessberg, David Isenberg, Ben Lewis, Neal Menkes, Debbie Minden, Rita Ruby, Cathy Soffin, and Sara Waskin

Board Members
Jennie Bandas, Rachel Beverly, Ed Coleman, Stephen Frost, Neil Halpert, Harry Hirsch, Brian Imburg, Jay Ipson, David Isenberg, Barry Krieg, Arnold Lowenstein, Rebekah Lowenstein, Dara Rosenblatt, Hilton Rubin, David Ruby, Marc Rutman, Rachael Schaier, Bob Siegel, Sam Straus, Bette Rose Webne, Franklin Wolf, Miriam Zarin and Roy Zeidman

Tue, October 23 2018 14 Cheshvan 5779