Letter from the President – October and November Update

Posted on November 21, 2022

Here’s an update from our October and November Board meetings.   Last month, we had a special Kallah at the temple for the board.  After some dinner and socializing, we spent most of the evening reviewing and discussing results from the two surveys that were conducted for the temple over the last six months.  The URJ survey, in which many of you participated, gave us insights into our community, and the OnBoard Board survey helped us understand opportunities for improving our effectiveness of the board.  I will be reporting out on that discussion in the next issue of Chai Lights, which you can expect in December.   Here’s a summary of topics we discussed in the November Board meeting:   Cantor Hollis provided clergy remarks. Cantor Hollis reflected on the experience of this year’s High Holidays, including the beautiful Erev Rosh Hashanah combined concert with the United Parish of Brookline, healthy participation in person and online, and our fantastic outdoor service at Camp Chickami. Heartfelt thanks to Richard Kaye, John Legg, Emma Lurie, and Roy Lurie on their many hours of work supporting all audio visual aspects of our High Holy Day services. Also, kudos to Student Rabbi Heather on her amazing Yom Kippur Yizkor sermon.  On the whole, the clergy team felt proud of the opportunity to bring our community together, in a variety of ways, and will capture lessons learned to apply to next year’s services.

Cantor Hollis also talked about the wonderful turnout that we have had at our recent Yeladim/B’Yachad services and Shabbat Pizza Dinners.  Since there are so many new members there, we are going to make an extra effort to have lay leaders present to help greet and welcome all members to these events.   Finally, Cantor Hollis said she and Rabbi Danny are looking for help identifying congregants who are in need of pastoral care.  People who could benefit don’t always feel comfortable reaching out themselves, and congregants don’t always think to tell us when they know of something going on.  The clergy can’t help unless we know about needs, so we need the help from the Board and others in the congregation to alert us.  People can reach out directly to Rabbi Danny or Cantor Hollis, or contact Karen Edwards who will pass along requests to them.   Stephanie Lerner provided an update on the ELC.  We are seeing healthy growth in enrollment.  She shared the understanding that our youngest members are thriving in a community where parents, educators and class environment all work together.  Stephanie shared pictures and videos of our children learning, playing, and growing together in the ELC.     Rebecca Chasen gave us a financial update.  As she begins her term as Treasurer, she is looking closely at the cost structure of the temple to ensure that we are being as efficient as possible with our funds.  With increasing costs across the board, and after several significant capital outlays to attend to long-delayed repairs, the temple is facing some challenging financial times.  Rebecca is seeking additional help for the Finance Committee to take on projects looking at fees and spending.   Mary Beth Rettger reported on current membership numbers, which remain stable. We have seen a healthy inflow of new members, across the demographic spectrum, at the same time that we have seen a natural outflow as members move or leave the temple for other reasons.  We are currently finalizing our membership numbers for this year, with phone calls to members we haven’t heard from. In addition, the administrative team is looking to create process improvements in scheduling and event planning. Building repairs (roof, sprinklers) have continued to take up surprising amounts of time for the team. At the same time, we continue to diligently investigate options for providing additional options for accessible bathrooms.  We have received official notification of our receipt of federal security grant funding, and have begun the process of identifying how we will spend that grant.  The HVAC contract has been signed, and work on that project will begin this week.   Bob Koster and Mike Wadness presented a motion to the board to approve signing a contract with Solect Energy to install solar power for the temple.  The selected vendor will install solar panels on the roof of the education building, as well as solar canopies (similar to the Wayland town offices) in our front and back parking lots.  This 25-year contract will provide about 85% of our electrical needs using green energy at no-cost to temple, helping us move to our environmental goals of being carbon neutral and reducing costs for the temple.  Thank you to the entire team that worked to identify and bring this opportunity to us.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving,

Jackie Loren