Each year I submit brief remarks based on the three basic functions of the synagogue as reflected in its Hebrew names: Beit Tefilah (House of Prayer), Beit Midrash (House of Study) and Beit K’nesset (House of Gathering).
Beit Tefilah: Our High Holiday services were full and joyful; the same can be said for our holiday celebrations, especially Hanukkah, Purim and the Pesach congregational Seder. The exception is Simchat Torah, which would benefit from some creative rethinking. I want to once again applaud the parents and students of our school who have made monthly Family Services so invigorating.
Beit Midrash: Our year-long study of the history of Reform Judaism was one of our best Torah study experiences to date. I am grateful for the remarkably strong support given Torah study week-in, week-out, and the vibrant discussion that takes place on a consistent basis. Our religious school, though diminished in numbers, concluded another excellent year, under the able leadership of the Cantor, the faculty, and the education committee. A new youth group was successfully launched in connection with a revised Confirmation program. Special thanks to our youth advisors Sabina Albrech and Samantha Rosenbloom, and to our b’nai mitzvah coordinator Marilyn Katz. Despite these positive developments, it is clear that we will have to grapple in the coming year with the consequences of our declining demographics.
Beit K’nesset: I am especially proud of our interfaith and social justice work this year, including hosting the Leonia Community Thanksgiving Service, our Community Interfaith Sanctuary City Resolution, Western Wall Resolution, and Mitzvah Mall program. Two greatly generous contributions to the synagogue will permit a new enhanced sound system, special youth programming, and other good works granted by the rabbi’s discretionary fund. I conclude, as always, with my sincere gratitude to the Temple Board, to the Cantor, and to our “family of families” for all you do to sustain our “assembly of the faithful” from year to year.