Soon we will be observing our beautiful High Holy Days again. There is a profound, perhaps mystical, sense for most Jews that this is a time to renew once again their sense of connection to the Jewish community. Our congregation is so fortunate that we can come together again. We welcome people who are sure there is a God; people who are sure there is no God; people who are trying to figure out their feelings about God and religion. Everyone is welcome. We will join together singing, laughing, and at times, having tears in our eyes. We will welcome in the Jewish New Year with familiar tunes and prayers. At the same time, we will explore new ways to connect spiritually with a different prayer book—an early draft copy of the newly finalized published machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh. As we go through the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, I invite each of us to look inward and see what the following year can hold. And how we can best unlock that potential in ourselves. On Yom Kippur we will be transported to another plane with several iterations of Kol Nidre and continue our service using a different early draft copy of Mishkan HaNefesh. On Yom Kippur day it is important to remember that health comes first and if you need to drink and eat, then that is what you must do. I hope you will join us in sharing your Yom Kippur reflections at 3:30pm before we come together again for the final parts of the day. Many of us think that the High Holy Days conclude with Yom Kippur, a serious, introspective day. However, we know that ending on a sweet note—think of our onegs after Shabbat—is key. Which is why we will continue the season with a Sukkot celebration, “Pizza in the Hut” on October 19 at noon. And then for the sweetest of them all, Simchat Torah, our goal is to have enough in attendance so that we may unroll the entire Torah around our sanctuary before singing and dancing with them in the social hall on the evening of October 23. See our calendar for the specifics of each of these events. Coming together as a community, being with one another while we each do our own spiritual work, is one of the beautiful moments we strive for during our holy days. I wish for each of us moments of inspiration, moments of beauty, moments of clarity, and moments of peace. May this year be good and kind to each of us and our loved ones. May it usher in a new era of peace for our world. May its sweetness last like honey on the tongue.
Wishing everyone a shana tova u’metukah, a good and sweet year!
Rabbi Rachael Jackson
On September 18, the Agudas Israel Board of Trustees and Rabbi Jackson participated in a board workshop facilitated by two excellent volunteers from the Union of Reform Congregations (URJ), Jay Gellman and Jill Goodman. Both of these individuals have a long history of leadership within their own congregations and within the URJ. They are trained facilitators and Jay Gellman has many years of experience working with synagogues looking to strengthen their congregations. Our goal for the day was to examine and enhance the work of the congregational board. We began the morning with a little coffee and bagels, schmoozing, introductions, and a D’var Torah. Then we proceeded with the hard work. Our facilitators engaged us in a series of exercises. We started by reviewing the functions of the temple board and then exploring what the board needs to change to more effectively execute our responsibilities. We examined our individual motivation and attributes as leaders in the congregation. We looked at barriers and actions needed for the changes we identified. Areas identified as our strengths include our long term existence, the personal connections and friendships within the congregation, the contributions we make to the greater community and our work towards tikkun olam, and the presence of Rabbi Jackson. Challenges we identified include the need to build leadership, increase engaged membership, improve communication (particularly between the board and the congregation), secure our finances, and develop long term goals. Since virtually all that we do at Agudas Israel is dependent on the commitment of volunteers, we spent a significant amount of time discussing volunteerism. We worked towards understanding an individual’s motivation to volunteer and how we could maximize motivators to get others involved and volunteer. We looked at the ways that we currently acknowledge our volunteers and brainstormed strategies to do a better job of this. Throughout the day, the driving force behind our efforts was the effort to continue to best meet the congregation’s needs. As the day came to a close we concluded our work by identifying the 3 most important goals that arose from all the activities and discussion. The development of long range goals including visioning, innovation and a strategic plan Better development of the role of the committees including a definition of the committee’s role, a written portfolio to be handed on as leadership changes, and better communication. Better communication regarding budgeting and forecasting as well as continued development of our legacy program. We will work to develop concrete action plans to fulfill these goals. We will be putting committees together to work on these endeavors. I hope you will join us in this important, sacred work. This has been a year filled with violence and unrest throughout the world. We feel our lives are filled with uncertainty. Knowing that we have a spiritual home in which to gather is a great comfort. I pledge to do my best to assure that Agudas Israel continues to grow and flourish and remain a place of shelter and peace.
I wish you all a sweet New Year filled with much joy, peace and many mitzvoth.
L’Shanah Tovah, President, Dr. Linda Perkel
Read the our Newsletter "Chai Lites" for June by clicking Chai Lites October 2016
See what books we have in the Agudas Israel Library for you to check out by clicking here: AGUDAS ISRAEL LIBRARY
See photos of our Mountain Jewish Festival from August 21, 2016 by clicking here: Mountain Jewish Festival photos 2016.
See photos from our Annual Sisterhood Fashion Show, August 2, 2016 by clicking here: Sisterhood Fashion Show 2016