Start of a new year - August 2012
As we enter August some exciting events will take place in CBSW and we hope you will seriously consider attending. First, our traditional Membership Brunch will take place on Sunday morning, August 19th (more information will separately follow). In some ways, it “unofficially” marks the beginning of CBSW’s New Year. It provides a wonderful opportunity for current congregants to come together, reconnect with friends who may have been away for the summer, enjoy a tasty brunch and learn about plans for the coming year. As important, the Brunch is very likely the first opportunity for potential new members to get their initial impression of our Jewish community. As we all know, first impressions are a major determinate of how people make judgments. So I ask not only our Board members but all our congregants that when you see a “new face” (and there should be a tag indicating this) to take a few moments to say “hello” and make the stranger feel welcome to our CBSW community. Remember the Torah stresses we must welcome strangers because “we were once strangers in a strange land”. The brunch also entails two very important pragmatic concerns – an introduction to our numerous committees where you can sign up as a volunteer and pledges for dues and education. Some of you may now be saying I’ve heard this one before and I fully agree – you have and to be frank, I will periodically raise this again as I believe it’s critical. Judaism has and always will be a faith based on taking actions – our Mitzvahs command us to do so. Everything we do at CBSW depends on congregant volunteers – holiday services and celebrations, teaching school and education policy, fund raising and social events, recruiting new members, Bar/Bat Mitzvah training, Board members, the list can go on. There are some congregants who continue to volunteer year after year – to them I can only give my unending thanks. Some of these volunteers are getting tired and need a break. Other committees need fresh new ideas or need volunteers to take up the reins as activities have disappeared – social action and planning/ implementing a major social event are two that come to mind. We need you to help – joining a committee and taking action to implement an activity is how Judaism becomes a reality in your life and to those who share in that event – if you have children it serves as an example of what it means to “volunteer your time and talent” for Judaism to thrive. Meeting our financial obligations was a challenge last year and projected for this coming fiscal year as well (July 2012 to June 2013). We unfortunately ended last year with a deficit of about 3% of our $400K of operating expenses, despite successfully reducing costs where possible and generating more than planned revenues from other sources – but we fell appreciably short on our expectations for dues. We expect a deficit this year as well. We on the Board recognize we are living in some challenging and uncertain economic times. For those families who are sincerely in a difficult financial situation, CBSW will, as we always have, make accommodation s – but you must discuss your situation with our Treasurer Robert Strong – all discussions are confidential. But for most congregants who are not in that situation we ask that you consider increasing your dues pledge by 5% so we can eliminate the projected deficit – if you gave nothing last year, please consider giving something. Robert will be in a room to hopefully get your pledges during the brunch. Finally, you have or will be receiving a mailing from Rabbi Brahms and Ed Steiner our Adult Education Chair on some exciting new Adult Education programs that will be beginning in August and September. Visiting Rabbi Wolbe, who leads a Houston based Education Group called Torch, will teach a course on the Jewish value of Kindness, while Rabbi Brahms will teach a course on Reformed Judaism. Rabbi Brahms discusses these great programs in detail in his article so I won’t repeat what he is saying. However, I am encouraging you to attend these programs – they offer an excellent opportunity to learn about ourselves and our faith. These Adult Education offerings are in response to a key concern raised in the survey. Now it’s time to “Walk the Talk” by coming to these two very interesting and informative programs. Judaism besides being a faith based on action is also a faith based on learning. I look forward to seeing you at the Membership Brunch where you can socialize, eat, welcome new or potential members, join a committee, submit your pledge and learn about our new Adult Educational offerings.