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From the President
President's Message - August 2019 PDF Print E-mail

Dear friends,

My Jewish journey began 54 years ago right here in Corpus Christi, and it has included meaningful experiences in California, Florida, New York, Texas and Israel.  I am so happy that my journey brought me home to Corpus Christi where you have provided me the opportunity to give back to our community as a teacher, a youth group leader, treasurer, and now as your president.  My first order of business as president is to thank my predecessor, Jim Gold, for his tireless commitment to CBI not only over these past two years as president, but for his many years of service to our community.  Thank you, Jim!  I would also like to welcome our new and returning board members and committee members.  Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to CBI. 

As the summer heats up, you may have noticed that the temperature in our auditorium has gone up too.  That air conditioning unit has finally quit for good, and it needs to be replaced.  I have ordered the replacement unit, and it will be delivered and installed in about six weeks.  It is an expensive unit; costing about $75,000.  While we have enough savings to pay for it, donations to help defray the cost of the new unit would be greatly appreciated.  You might even say it would be a “cool” thing to do!

My friends, thank you for the trust you have placed in me.  We are going to have a good year filled with innovative opportunities to come together as a community to pray, to play, to learn, and to serve our community.  I look forward to working with Rabbi Emanuel and with all of you to continue strengthening our kehillah kedoshah, our holy community.  Enjoy the rest of your summer.


Gregory Marks,  CBI President

President's Message - June & July 2019 PDF Print E-mail

As my term of office as your CBI President comes to an end, I want to thank all the Board Members, volunteers, and Congregants who have given so generously of their time, energy, and financial resources to make our ‘Family of Families’ such a success. During this period, we had  beautiful events such as the Yom Hashoa program with Batsheva, a very meaningful Confirmation Class Program in which our students shined, and a wonderful Purim Carnival attended by young and old alike. We demonstrated our commitment to Tikkun Olam by making sure our congregants’ needs created by  hurricane Harvey were met and then assisted the general Costal Bend community with a day of service helping people in Port Aransas clean up.   Through the Harvey Grossman Memorial Fund for Film and Education we had a spectacular weekend with Mr. Steven Weisman making several presentations which drew  large attendance and overwhelming praise.  Our adult education program was enhanced by the addition of technology which allows us access to experts and courses around the world and has added greatly to our  7-week Omer Study.   Religiously we continued to fully support our commitment to both reform and traditional services during holidays and on a weekly basis. We added to the reform service by having men and women participate by lighting the candles and carrying the Torah. Organizationally, we began to reconstitute a CBI Committee system in which we combined several committees into 5 Teams so that committees would consist of more than one or two people and be more representative of the congregation.

Of course, we continued to do the things we do so well. Food Fest was an outstanding  success both years. Our second night Passover seder continues to be a wonderful community event. The dedicated Mitzvah Committee did a fabulous job in providing both food and support for congregants who are homebound. Our Social Action Team was active in continuing to provide for the homeless and was very active in voter registration. Our cemeteries continue to be well maintained as we honor those who came before us. Our youth have been well served through religious and Hebrew school, Jewish camp participation, and NFTY events throughout the state. All-in-all the past 2 years have been full of exciting events and changes that has drawn participation from all segments of our congregation.

As joyful as the events have been my tenure has faced challenges that did not necessarily start in the last  2 years and likely not be totally resolved quickly. We have experienced a decline in number of members, lower total dues contributions, increased facility costs, and increasing lower participation in regular religious services. This has resulted in taking increased amounts from our reserves and CBI Trust Fund interests. Although these resources are intended to be used for supporting the congregation, the increasing use of these resources will deplete them at some point, too soon in the future – removing the safety net that was there for us but not for our children, grandchildren and future members.

In the near future I believe that we can continue with our successful activities and programs but need to consider what the Congregation should look like in 3, 5, 10, and 15 years. When those considerations are  discussed the conclusion will likely consist of both minor and major changes that will need to be implemented in order for CBI to be viable in the long run. I don’t know what those changes will be, however,  I believe it is better to start planning now in order to implement changes as smoothly as possible, limit the personal differences that come with change, and to preserve as many of our funds as possible.

Unfortunately,  events in the world have caused us to focus on ensuring the safety and security of our Congregants. A study was conducted and we are now in the process of implementing many of the recommendations which will “Harden” our building against unwanted intruders. Doors will be reinforced, special shatter-proof film will be put on select windows, the Sunday School wing will be secured and people will be more aware of what to do in an emergency. We don’t expect any problems in Corpus Christi but we want congregants to feel comfortable participating in events at CBI.

Your 2019-20 Board of Trustees will provide the leadership required to both continue to support the successful programs and services and provide direction for the future. You can help by volunteering, participating in programs and services and supporting the congregation financially. By everyone focusing on the congregation’s success the future will be bright for our “Family of Families”.

Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - May 2019 PDF Print E-mail
It was my intent to devote the May newsletter to updating you on the progress we have made in developing and implementing a Congregation Security Plan in the aftermath of the Park Synagogue tragedy. Because of the more recent heart-breaking events at the Poway Chabad Synagogue  we felt it necessary to update you more immediately via a Facebook posting. The Facebook posting is reproduced below so all congregants fully understand that your safety  is of the highest priority and your Congregation leadership is taking significant steps to upgrade our security systems and processes to meet the challenges of our changing world.

Facebook Post:
We are heartbroken to learn of the shootings at Chabad of Poway this Shabbat. We send prayers of condolence and healing for the community. We remain as resolved as ever to work with all peace-loving people toward an end to hate and an end to gun violence, and for the ability to pray in all our places of worship without fear. 

We want to assure everyone entering CBI that we are proactively working to make sure everyone is safe and secure at all times while keeping our Family of Families atmosphere.  We continue to have armed security at Congregation Beth Israel services and events and are controlling access to the building through locked doors.  Despite our past efforts we all recognize that times have changed and we need to do more.

Your Board authorized The Association of Professional Trainers Academy, to conduct a comprehensive security study of Congregation Beth Israel to  describe and prioritize  upgrades for CBI to consider in implementing a CBI Comprehensive Security Plan. We very recently received the report which was reviewed by the Finance and Operations Team this past Sunday. As the report states, “Some of the measures recommended in this assessment are as simple as turning a key to lock a door; however, many countermeasures will require planning, and a budget of time and money.”  The  Finance and Operations Team determined that ensuring the external doors and windows  are “hardened” to reduce entry by unwanted individuals or objects, installing bollards at main entranceways, securing the sanctuary, and securing the classroom area are priorities that should and can be immediately addressed. Other recommendations such as significant landscape changes and additional fencing will require additional planning and resources. A small group will be working on ensuring these changes will take place in the very near future.

I want to emphasize that there is nothing more important to our Board of Directors and me than making sure CBI is a safe and secure environment in which you can comfortably enjoy our religious, social, and educational experiences. Therefore, security will always be of the highest priority.

For more information about our ongoing security plans please contact our president Jim Gold or our head of security Mike Trimyer. 

Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - April 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Our 3-day Purim celebration was a well-attended smashing success.   On Thursday Rabbi Emanuel read the full Megillah of Ester with humor and attendees  joyously participated by booing and making great use of their groggers. On Friday, Rabbi Emanuel , Mira Emanuel  and Lauri Bryce  accompanied by Kim Bryce did a wonderful Purim spiel telling and singing a shortened and  entertaining version of the story of Ester with the shabbat attendees again energized using their groggers and  booing at the mentioning of Haman. This was followed by a wonderful family dinner which was headed by David Jacobs with the assistance of Mari Kay. Saturday night was the festive Sisterhood sponsored Purim Festival organized by Manuela Selas and Odelia Rios. The costumes were great, food was delicious but most of all it was a joy to see so many congregants coming together and genuinely enjoying being a part of our “Family of Families.”  The Purim celebration was so successful that the decision has already been made to have a repeat performance next year.

Preparations are being made for the second night community Passover seder taking place on April 20. This is a wonderful event in which we come together to not only celebrate our miraculous exodus from Egypt but also remember and pray for all those people who are still enslaved throughout the world.  I urge you to get your reservations in early since the community seder always draws a capacity crowd and space is limited.

The CBI Board of Directors has set the CBI Annual Meeting for June 20, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. At this meeting we review our accomplishments and elect new officers for the 2019-2020 year. This is an important meeting for everyone to attend as it sets the course for the next year and provides support for the incoming Board and Officers. Dinner will follow the formal meeting.

Have a wonderful Pesach.

Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - March 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Thank you to the Harvey Grossman Memorial Fund for film and Continuing Education for making possible the outstanding Scholars Weekend with Mr. Steven Weisman an author, a 40 year New York times correspondent/Bureau Director and a caring and compassionate seeker of truth.  Mr. Weisman provided 2 outstanding presentations related to our American Jewish history and heritage based on his recent book The Chosen Wars and a final lecture on “Fake News”. Mr. Weisman‘s historical details  about Jewish American history provided thoughtful insights  into who we are as an  American Jewish religion and community today while his “Fake News” event generated many questions and gave us a glimpse into Fake News from a major newspaper viewpoint.  I thank Rabbi and Phyllis Roseman and Mel Klein for being instrumental for making the weekend possible and attending to the details that made it such a success. My gratitude goes out to  the Harvey Grossman Memorial Fund for Film and Continuing Education Committee, who provided wonderful guidance in making the program such a success. Committee members include Rabbi Roseman, Mel Klein, David Jacobs, Venita Crow, Elizabeth Susser, Gail Loeb, and Jim Gold. Most of all, I thank all of those who attended  one or more of the sessions for supporting this unique learning opportunity and engaging with our fellow CBI Congregants. 

Each day I was amazed at how the number of Jewish attendees exceeded our expectations and couldn’t help but wonder what brought them there? Realistically I recognize it was in part a notable, accomplished author but I also believe it was a connection to our shared Jewish cultural and religious values.  For a few hours it was evident that social media, our secular commitments, and material distractions were set aside and we each added to our Jewish legacy by both learning and engaging with our fellow Congregants. I also realized that we cannot always offer accomplished individuals like Mr. Weisman but congregants can add to their Jewish legacy by attending other significant congregation events such as Friday/Saturday Shabbat Services, the upcoming Purim Carnival, The Great Courses Jewish Odyssey Series, Sisterhood participation, and special Holiday and Festival services and celebrations. We offer a myriad of program and services that you can take advantage of and help build your Jewish legacy and support Congregation Beth Israel. I would love to see you there!

Alert—Toward the end of March you will be receiving an invitation to complete a Congregation Beth Israel Survey that will help the Board of Trustees plan for the future. The quality of this process is dependent on your feedback as to who we are as a sacred community and who we want to be. From this data the Board and Congregation will set priorities, methods and strategies to make sure our mutually identified  priorities are met. Please take the 10-15 minutes to provide your views.

Jim Gold, CBI President 

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