Annual Meeting of the Membership 2018

Address from Rob Raich, CBE President

This past year has been a fantastic one for our congregation.

I want to start by congratulating our new board members and our continuing board members. Also our new, and our continuing officers.

I want to give a bittersweet thank you to Kathy Raphael for all she has done as a board member – there is so much we could not have achieved without her – and I truly hope she continues to serve our community in every way she can and/or chooses.

Most importantly, let me thank my predecessor – and my friend – Jonathan for all he has done for this community – and all he will continue to do.

Let me review the year.

We welcomed 147 new member households in the last 12 months.

Our first rate programs – ECC, our Afterschool, Camps, and of course Yachad all thrived during the year.

Our post Bnai mitzvah programs and youth groups have been revived and are expanding – Our first Chazakah/confirmation graduation ceremony was just this past Shabbat – and it was an amazing community event; it exemplified perfectly why what we do is relevant and is important.

Our community came together throughout the year in celebration, prayer and in learning. Our second annual Dance fundraiser – the kidless Bar Mitzvah – was once again a great success…as was the newly revived Arts Show.
And of course in just a few weeks we will be celebrating Marc Katz at Marc’s last lap.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered, contributed and participated in all of these events.

Our learning initiatives are growing and they are some of the most innovative anywhere in Jewish life today: this past year over 60 of our members met in 3, 4 week long sessions discussing the history, the present, the miracle, and the challenges of Israel.

Led by the encyclopedic Rabbi Josh Weinberg, our members learned together – and then, moderated by a volunteer group of facilitators (trained by Cara Raich), they discussed and debated intensely – but with respect – what they had learned.

Rather than avoid a potentially divisive topic, we made it a topic of understanding and learning – and one of community building.

Our clergy were constantly and genuinely there for us this past year. We continue to attract the best interns including – Now Rabbi Matt Green, Thalia Halpert Rodis, and Sarah Grabiner, who stepped up during Cantor Breitzer’s sabbatical – she did an amazing job, a sincere thank you to Sarah.

Rabbi Green’s work with Brooklyn Jews led to national acclaim for our outreach to young adults, and he will continue – and fully integrate – these initiatives as our new assistant rabbi.

Rabbi Marc Katz, as if to accentuate how much we will miss him, gave his all in every way despite his search for a Senior Rabbi position.

And of course Rabbi Timoner gave everything, everyday – we are so blessed with her as our spiritual leader – I find her ability to deal with the mundane, the personal, and the sublime, sometimes all at the same time, truly breathtaking.

I also want to thank the members and leaders of our congregation who ensured that we have a great clergy team for the coming years.

Rosalee Lovett and her committee who were tasked with the impossible – to replace Rabbi Katz – met that impossible standard by recommending the hire of Rabbi Green. He will officially turn in his intern title on July 1 and join us as our new Assistant Rabbi.

Also thank you to Lisa Lieberman and her committee who were tasked with finding the best Rabbi Educator in the country – and we believe they succeeded with their recommendation to hire Rabbi Rebecca Epstein, who will be joining us in just a few weeks…leading to our new slogan “Now, with 50% more Rabbis.”

On that topic, I want to thank the many Yachad parents, and Rabbi Timoner, for recognizing the need for a Rabbi Educator as an urgency, and a special thank you to Marc Sternberg for leading the charge in raising the funds necessary for this hire.

Marc and the development committee will be taking on the challenge to create a more effective, strategic vision for our future fundraising needs – both for current operations, and for our long term capital planning.

Betti Greenstein and her staff continue towards making our operations smooth and welcoming and she has been an incredible asset for our congregation. Judy, working with the finance committee and John have worked diligently to utilize our financial resources conservatively but boldly.

Now about these buildings…Betti, Jonathan, the house committee, and their consultants are working on plans – and gathering the resources – to first, do the repairs that we must, and then, with some inevitable fundraising, make the improvements that we need and want.

In the meantime they caught the curveball of the ceiling collapse in the sanctuary with seemingly ease. They were able to carry out the repairs in time for the holidays – and I can’t tell you how amazing this feat really was.
Our members continue to be meaningfully engaged in Tikkun Olam and social action.

Our dismantling racism team, the refugee task force, the respite shelter, and the many initiatives that individually, collectively and professionally originate within our community are humbling and awesome.

Let me conclude with a few thoughts…

As Jonathan discussed, our recent history has not always been smooth. Steps forward were often met with steps back
Now – just maybe – we can begin to plan strategically and with purpose.

With so many pieces in place, we can think about what we NEED to do and WANT to do in order to be relevant not just next year, but 5 years from now, and then beyond.

What staff do we need to develop? What leadership can we develop? What do we need from our buildings? What fundraising and financial structure? How do we better serve our growing community? How do we make people feel welcome? How do we encourage a more connected community?

How do we make this a place of warmth, connection, and relevance?

Now, I want to be clear…my first goal as president will be to do no harm. There is so much that is great about CBE, and if I personally did nothing at all, you’d be just fine. BUT, if I can help leave CBE just a little better than how I found it…that will be pretty good.

A last point. Call me, write me, and complain to me. I will always listen and I will always act when needed. I will listen – but be prepared, I will not hesitate to ask you for help as well…

In closing, thank you for your trust – and thank you for your burden.

Rob Raich
CBE President