|Vice President||David Silver|
|Board of Members||Lloyd Baron
Message From Our President
Dear Congregation Beth Israel Family,
Shana Tovah and G’mar Chatima Tovah
It is my honour and privilege to speak this evening. I want to welcome each and every one of you to Your Congregation Beth Israel on this most meaningful of holidays. On behalf of the Board of Directors, and of the staff, I wish each of you and your families a year of health, contentment, personal success, and peace. And on behalf of all of us, I wish for a year of peace and stability in this supernatural but fragile world that we inhabit.
It is an incredible honour for me to act as your president. It has become obvious to me that BI matters in a most profound way, in our lives. And my mission is to make sure it continues to matter, that we feel informed, involved, and engaged. Tonight, I want to thank the wonderful people that work at BI and acknowledge their contributions. I will tell you what activities go on here. My ultimate wish is that the telling will make you want to be part of all that happens here, and to be part of our success.
I have a strong Board to work with, many volunteers, and an extremely helpful executive of David Silver, Gary Miller and Tanyss Bugiss. My heartfelt thanks to the Board for their hours of participation and support so far, and the implied promise to continue til the end of their terms. I have also had inspiring mentors in the way of Presidents who preceded me, and want to acknowledge their advice, talents and ongoing involvement in this congregation
But first I have a short story to tell:
Yair Infeld (the rabbi’s son) and two of his friends were walking on the sidewalk arguing over whose Daddy was the greatest. Yankl said, “My Dad is the greatest because he is a rich stock broker in downtown Vancouver.
Shmerel said, “That’s nothing. My Daddy is a politician and he says he’s the most powerful man around.”
Yair said, “That’s nothing, my Dad is a rabbi, and he owns hell.”
“How can you own hell?” asked the other boys.
“Well my Dad came home last night and told Lissa, my mom, that the Shul Board gave it to him!”
Now to be honest, that story isn’t really true. In fact, we hold the Rabbi in the highest esteem. Rabbi Infeld is at the heart and soul of our community.
This shul is remarkably fortunate to have a highly qualified, sensitive and connected team of Rabbi Infeld, Rabbi Stein, and Ba’alat Tefillah Debby Fenson. Thank you Rabbi Infeld, for holding the bar high in practice and in worship. You have earned loyalty among us to your services and programs. Thank you, Rabbi Stein for your ability to touch our hearts, and to provide us with highly professional programs, and to sub in seamlessly. As always, thank you Debby for being a spiritual voice for us, and for teaching us and our children to be confident and comfortable daveners.
Esther Wood became executive director of Beth Israel this past year and she’s a real asset. Esther is personable, hard working, dedicated, follows through and never gives up. It’s a pleasure to work with her. Esther has a strong office team to work with. Thank you to Tovah Carr, Gaynor Levin, Nicky Fried, Han Han and Suzanne Gumperich, for all the work you do. We thank Shannon Etkin for his many years of service and commitment prior to his retirement.
Rabbi Bluman runs our Hebrew School and our Youth programs. Thank you for all you do. His school staff includes teachers both at our afternoon school and at Chai School. Angela Mammon makes youth programming happen. Both have excellent relations with our young community from age 3 months to 30 years. I’d also like to acknowledge those who gave their professional assistance with B’nei Mitzvah prep this past year.
We love our new building, but to be honest, it’s very high maintenance. The HVAC alone has cost us hours and dollars that we can barely spare. I want to express our gratitude to Chuck Partridge, our building and properties manager, and his team, who keep this place functioning, and who take care of our cemetery and chapel. Also, Chuck walks around with smiles for everyone and a can-do attitude. Thank you, Chuck.
How would we function without Melodie Boyboy, head of house and her fabulous kitchen helpers, servers, clean up crews and custodial staff, who are always anticipating our every need. At my first Board meeting, Purita, who works in the evenings, saved the day because she had a pair of reading glasses which she generously gave me, when I forgot mine, thus allowing the meeting to carry on.
Every Shabbat and holiday our childminders are present in the pray and play space. They are loyal, trustworthy, and the kids are comfortable with them. Thank you to all of them for their service to our families.
During the High Holidays, Stan Shear has been leading us for the past several years, in Tefillah – with his cantorial melodies and lovely musicality. Thank you. Thank you to Fabi, our choir leader, and to our choir members, for adding beauty to our services. Thank you to all the congregants who take part in the High Holiday and Shabbat services. And please come early tomorrow afternoon before Ne’Ilah services, as my brother and chant the Haftarah Yonah. Volunteering takes many forms, and I for one love to combine davening and administrative volunteerism.
Thank you to Norman Franks and his committee of parnassim. These dedicated men and women keep our services running smoothly, both at the holidays and for each and every Shabbat and weekday minyan. Parnassim tell us where to stand, how to open, hold, and sit. We are so grateful to you all.
Last but not least, thank you to all of you who volunteer and donate throughout the year. We are by our actions a synagogue who give to each other by our acts of chesed, kindness, and our simple acts of service to others.
What a year it has been. Let me tell you some highlights and some numbers, just for a taste of what has gone on.
- Shabbat with a Difference– has been extremely popular. Each of our 4 events have been overflowing – up to 250 people. Thanks to a generous endowment by the Laimon family, this program can continue now in perpetuity.
- Attitude of Gratitude– this new series started in early 2018. It delves into Jewish perspectives on attitudes of gratitude and received good response. We plan to do another series in 2019
- Law & Learn Series– one of our most popular series. We had guest speakers such as MP & Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould & Attorney General of BC David Eby.
- Tea and Talmud – adult study every other week all year with Rabbi Stein
- Lunch & Learn– again, a popular event which regularly get about 35-40 people attendees. This is a monthly learning session with Rabbi’s Infeld and/or Stein.
- Adult Seder– 160 people on 2nd night
- Purim dinner – over 90 people. In fact over 500 people passed through our doors last Purim, for all our events.
Family Programs: From Sukkot to Pesach – usually over 100 people at an event, and a whopping 220 for the Family Purim extravaganza.
Youth /Hebrew School Programs:
- USY active both regionally and locally – our chapter of USY was deemed a Chapter of Excellence by our region of USY, Pinwheel.
- Post Pesach Pasta Party– around 200 people, including over 50 volunteers, raised over $10,000 (we raised $8,500 the previous year) for youth and education programs
- USY Menchies for Mensches– 25-30 USYers
Cantillation workshops with Rabbi Miles Cohen – a full week of classes that were well attended. Learning trop and associated skills.
Young Adult Programs:
Young Adult Shabbat Dinners, once every two months… 50 – 70 in attendance including 2nd night Rosh Hashana.
Our Fundraisers last year:
- Golf – Raised $36,000
- FOBI – Raised $52,0004. High Holyday Appeal Sept 2017 – $37,510. Can we beat that this year?
- 5. Burn the Mortgage campaign – $1.3 million raised to assist with getting rid of debt. Heartfelt thanks to the chairs Lee Simpson and Gary Averbach for their hard work and thank you to all who gave.
- 3 the pasta party
B’nai Mitzvah – 39 – an exhausting but exciting number, Weddings – 7, Funerals – 18, Baby naming – 7, Bris – 5, current member families – 652 (each member family consists of 1 – 6 members).
And what can we look forward to this year?
For over 30 years we at Beth Israel had the privilege of being led by Rabbi Wilfred Solomon, well known throughout the city, and at his retirement in 1997 he became Rabbi Emeritus of our synagogue. He made Aliyah with his beloved wife Phyllis. I am very excited to announce to you that on May 5, Rabbi Emeritus Wilfred Solomon is to be honoured by the Rabbinical Assembly as one of the 3 outstanding living Canadian rabbis. The RA is holding its meetings in Montreal. Rabbi Infeld will attend, and so may a few other BI members. Prime Minister Trudeau may be the presenter. Due to his age and health (Rabbi Solomon is over 90 years old), he and Phyllis will be videoed in advance of the presentation at home, but not fly overseas to attend. We are even in the opening gambits of securing an Order of Canada for Rabbi Solomon, to be bestowed that night if at all possible.
We are sure that many congregants will want to celebrate this honour given our Rabbi Solomon. Here’s the good news. Beth Israel intends to hold a fundraiser that is accessible to many where we see the presentation by video and at which we will celebrate our beloved Rabbi Emeritus, his accomplishments, and his legacy. Hopefully we will raise funds for a naming ceremony in his name in the building. Look for an announcement about the exact date in May.
Other things to look forward to:
A Whistler retreat in November 2018 that is already 50% booked. It looks amazing – featuring programs for The Healthy Jew.
-a review of our experimental alternative High Holiday services, and some decision making for next year.
New adult education classes – in addition to and not instead of our current programs. Hebrew classes. Law and Learn one day seminar.
A program called BI Neighbourhoods, run by Rabbi Stein, connecting young families to each other and BI in small groups.
We have a large conversion class this year and we’re planning a trip to Israel for lawyers in November 2019.
As your president, I am committed to making sure our membership is informed, connected and feels to be a part of every level of the shul’s activities. To that end, I have initiated my written reports to the congregation after each Board meeting, letting you know what goes on at a Board/ committee level. If you haven’t read it before, please do read the next report, out next week.
I ask for and rely on feedback about issues that are important to us. And by the way, please don’t hesitate to give me feedback about the many services that were conducted in this building during the High Holidays. Other ways we are trying to improve – by becoming more fiscally responsible. We have put in place more financial safeguards and more precise budgeting models so that our dollars are accounted for down to the last shabbat challah. Kidding. New committees and task forces are being formed. We are taking the time to do it right, and involve as many of you as possible.
I have given you a lot of detailed information. It’s because there is a lot to tell. BI has a lot happening to feed our mouths, our minds, our spirits and our souls. Rabbi Infeld spoke at Rosh Hashana of happiness and of meaningful, purposeful existence. My wish is that you find your special meaningful place here, where you live love and learn.
And it’s a 2 way street. We need your ideas, your energy and your visions. We do a great deal in this community. But with your involvement, we have the capacity to do so much more. We ask for your participation, physically, intellectually, and of course financially. And now I have to remind myself that this is a High Holiday appeal speech. Your dollars will allow us to continue our work and provide the programming that makes a difference.
It’s not too late to make your High Holiday Pledge. We collected a great deal on Kol Nidre night, but frankly, every pledge and every donor counts. Please count yourself in today. Thank you.
Canadian privacy laws do not allow us to publish the contact details for our Board of Directors or congregants. If you would like to get in touch with our Board please contact the office at 604-731-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.