I am humbled and excited to take on the role of president of Temple Israel. As many of you have pointed out to me over the past few weeks, it’s not an easy role, but I think we are up for the challenge.
Our need for connection has been complicated by nearly two years of physical isolation due to the pandemic. We have needed to learn new ways of reaching out to each other and supporting our community. Opening our doors and welcoming new people has been both more difficult without the use of a physical space, and easier as people can zoom in through technology from virtually anywhere.
Gimilut Chasadim and Tikun Olam has never been more urgent as we recognize the urgency of climate change, combatting anti-semitism, anti-black racism, reconciliation and so much more.
Our building renovation project is well underway. The BRAC committee – Building Renovation Action Commit- tee, has been hard at work with architects, and others to be in a position to bring you a plan.
In order to be truly inclusive, we must renovate to be barrier-free and accessible to everyone. We must install an elevator and barrier-free access to washrooms, an accessible bima, and ramps so that everyone can partic- ipate in our programs and services. Also, security needs are becoming more and more important and must be enhanced and modernized.
These challenges also offer us an opportunity to revitalize our building. In addition to the areas of improvement I just mentioned, we also hope to build for future needs by expanding and modernizing our sanctuary and social hall, our school and our administrative offices, enhancing audiovisual and electronic infrastructure and implement- ing more efficient and greener energy aspects.
But a building, no matter how renovated, is just four walls without our members. Engagement is critical to our success as a community. This past year and a half has been difficult, and we have been challenged to find new and different ways to connect with each other. But hopefully things will be improving soon! Our health and safety committee is working hard to ensure that people feel safe and secure in our building.
And for those who cannot attend in person, we need to have reliable technology available so people can continue to participate virtually. This is also a work in progress.
Creating the warm and welcoming environment that Temple is known for which encompasses our school families, youth, participants in our insights class, newcomers to our community and to our city and others is all of our responsibility and we need to be working on ways to achieve this feeling both virtually and in person.
As things begin to open up, and we begin to be able to welcome people in our physical space again, we will plan for more outreach activities. Please let me know if you have thoughts, or ideas or if you would like to help out. Nurturing the engagement of our youth is our future. Ensuring the success of our school and youth programs is a top priority for me.
Our school is going strong under the amazing ruach and leadership of our dynamic trio of Ranit Braun, Jenny Burns and Karli Speevak. Rabbi Dara and Ranit are blazing trails with FROSTY and JYG. I encourage you to give them a shout if you have kids or grandkids in junior high school and high school, they would love to share all the exciting things they have planned with your teens.
Finally, music. Music is so important to who we are at Temple. Our choir is a source of pride, and we love to sing along! However, right now, we are at a cross-roads in our musical story. Currently, our music subcommittee is working under the able leadership of Aliza Rudner. We will be looking for a choir director as well as a canto- rial soloist for High Holidays and possibly other services. Following recommendations from the Music Task Force, we will also be looking for a musical director to coordinate it all. Stay tuned for more news about that!
We have a great team on the board and the executive, and strong leaders on our committees and task forces working to fulfil these mandates and much more.
We are so lucky to have Rabbi Mikelberg, Heather Cohen and Cathy Loves in the office and Steve Elliot, Matthew Garber and our entire staff of teachers as well who are all committed to our success.
I would love for you to join us. If you are interested in helping out in any way, large or small, give me a call or send me an email. Let’s talk and figure out where your skills and interests can be best placed. Or if you’d like to call me just to chat about Temple and our direction, feel free. I will always make time to hear from you about how we are doing and how we can do better. We’d love your ideas and your help. Working for and with this sacred community is so rewarding in so many ways. I encourage each of you to give it a try.
Finally, I would like to thank Margot for her leadership as president over the past two years. Margot has been our first – and God-willing – only pandemic-president. It is not a title that I hope I will have to continue!
Through all the challenges that presented themselves over the course of her tenure, Margot kept it all together with grace and has worked hard for the betterment of our sacred community and we really are so grateful for her steady hand and strong leadership over this difficult, crazy time. Her leadership over these past years, have truly been a beacon of light for our Temple.
I wish all of you a safe and restful winter break and all the best for a happy and healthy 2022!
Miriam Burke, President