President Jackie Loren’s High Holy Days Address

Posted on September 28, 2022

Good Morning,

This is my first High Holy Days speech as your Temple President, so I have decided to start with all the good news so you will be so excited you won’t notice my knees shaking.   

It is my honor to welcome you here, back to our sanctuary (our gathering as a community at Camp Chickami) whether you are here as members or guests; we are so pleased you are able to join us today.  We are also happy to welcome our members who have chosen to join us via livestream whether you are just down the street or across the country or on the other side of the world.  

 As you look around the Sanctuary, I hope you see familiar faces that remind you that you are connected to our community, but I also want you to see the new faces. Over 30 new families have joined our congregation since our Annual meeting in June.  More than 100 new faces that I hope will feel the sense of belonging and community that I feel whenever I walk in our doors or we gather together. COVID was a difficult time for all of us, connecting through Zoom sometimes felt inauthentic- despite being able to worship in our pajamas- so I want to remind you: We are back.  Our Temple is open and exciting things are happening.  

Hineini, our Religious School, and our Early Learning Center are back in session and the sounds of children laughing and learning create an energy all its own, and it is vibrant in the air.  Our Adult Community Engagement, also known as ACE, are planning in-person programs.  Our amazing Adult Education committee has planned more classes and a Scholar in Residence series has been added to our Temple Calendar. 

As we head into this new year together, I want to let you know some of the amazing things we have completed, some you can see and some you can’t. 

We have completed the roof repair over the Religious School, fixing the problem once and for all, and allowing us the opportunity to finally move forward with confidence the long desired solar project.   

We have been awarded a $100,000 Federal security grant, giving us the ability to increase the safety of our building and our congregation. 

Due to a generous anonymous donor, we have completed multiple beautification projects including: 

  • Amazing new Technology -with several new cameras and a large television for visual tefillah.
  • Newly painted upstairs classrooms in bold colors taken directly from the Hineini and AISH logos.
  • Revitalized landscape facing Boston Post Road increasing our curb appeal.
  • The Lobby Gathering space with new couches, chairs and tables, and a coffee bar coming soon.  I encourage you to take advantage of this welcoming space to visit with friends while your kids are in religious school or as a meeting space for your committee. 

See, you didn’t even notice the shaking knees.   

As I spoke at our Annual Meeting, we have spent a tremendous amount of time considering our congregation and creating a strategic plan to identify priorities and actions.  I want to thank all the members of our congregation that gave their time and insight so that we could better address the needs and hopes of our members. If you were not part of these initial conversations, please know there will be many, many more opportunities for your input.  

You might remember you were asked to participate in a survey from the URJ on our behalf.  We have been going over the results.  That information along with our conversations regarding the strategic plan- we have found a common theme.  We as a congregation want three things:  A welcoming community.  A culture of belonging. And a source of Meaning.  

In my experience, all of those characteristics started with me.  It started with a question about what I wanted from this community and what I was willing to give to get it.  I am not speaking about dues, or annual fund donations — I am speaking about my time.  My personal experience.  My desire to create a welcoming community that belonging to, gives me a source of meaning. 

I have spoken about my journey to engagement.  Of how, feeling lost and disconnected, I went to Cantor Hollis for some help and she suggested I join our unbelievable choir.  If you want an instant welcome and sense of belonging—join our choir.  Their voices are not the only amazing thing about them. 

Joining the choir might not be your thing.  I get it.  So, I challenge you.  What is your thing?  When you come here, what do you want to see?  What do you want it to be? 

Engagement changed everything about how I felt about this community.  I feel invested in our success, not just financially, but emotionally and physically.  I encourage you to invest in our success too.  There are a hundred ways big and small that you can get involved and we need you.  We need your hands and your experience and your hopes.   

What is your thing?  What do you want to see?  What can I do to help you achieve it? 

So now I come to the High Holy Day appeal that you have all been anticipating since I was called up to speak today.  This is probably my least favorite part about being President.   

My goal is to reach as many of you as possible– to make you understand that our dues and fees only cover a portion of our annual budget, and the absolute importance of every dollar you add to our Annual Fund.  I need to impress upon all of you that our relationship is not transactional.  Your dues and fees and Annual Fund donations help to support our congregation for everyone in our community, for now and for the future.  I need to inspire you to make our congregation a priority when you decide where your donation dollars go.  All of this, with shaking knees. 

All I can say is –This community is ours.  Every member.  Every committee.  Every learning opportunity.  Every service.  It’s ours.  And we are all in this together. 

So, I encourage you to give.  Give because this is one of the few charitable contributions where you know 100% of the money goes to support our community.  Give because every single donation from $36 to $5,000 matters in the success of our strategic plan’s key tenets. A welcoming community. A culture of belonging.  A source of meaning.  I encourage you to join me in making Shir Tikva the Heart of Jewish Living and Practice in MetroWest. Because we cannot do it without you. 

Before I finish up, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to the Temple staff.  Their caring and dedication to our community has been essential in our ability to not only survive the challenges of the last two years, but come out stronger than ever.  

I also want to thank every member of our Board of Trustees and our committee members for their time and commitment to our congregation.  Their thoughtful stewardship ensures that our values and strategic plan priorities have the support necessary for success. 

I especially want to thank my husband, Adam, and my daughters: Rachel, Emma and Sasha.  Adam said yes to me becoming President almost a full week before I did. I am incredibly grateful for their support and encouragement and belief that I can do this job.   Their belief in me gave me the courage to say yes.  And I am so glad I did. Lastly, I want to thank all of you.  New members.  Founding Members. And everyone in between. You are a vital member of our community, and I am thrilled to stand here, with my shaking knees, to wish you a sweet, happy and healthy new year. 

Shana Tovah.