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Home From the President
From the President
President's Message - November 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends,

By the time you read this article, our 34th annual Food Fest will be only a few days away.  The excitement is building. The smells coming out of the kitchen are divine.  The silent auction is on-line, and people are begging to get into the vintage shop early!  It takes tremendous effort from all of us to make Food Fest the successful event that it is, and I would like to thank each and every one of you for helping out this year.  Food Fest is such a wonderful event, and it is important to us in so many ways beyond the money it brings in to help support our congregation.  It is, of course, a major source of revenue, but it also introduces us to the broader community.  It gives the people of Corpus Christi a peek into our Jewish life and culture.  More than that, it helps create and reinforce relationships between us and our non-Jewish neighbors.  As important as all of that is, I submit to you that the best thing about Food Fest is the bond it creates among us.  It is hard work, but it is also fun, and it reminds us that we are all part of this wonderful community called Congregation Beth Israel.  

I leave you with a story from this past weekend that involves both Jewish geography and relationships formed at CBI.  I spent the weekend with my son Ryan at Indiana University in Bloomington (Go Hoosiers!).  It was Dad’s weekend at his fraternity, and about 50 dads gathered for a weekend of fun and football, with a little beer thrown in for good measure.  I was talking with a father who was in from Chicago.  He seemed like a nice guy, and his son is Ryan’s little brother in the fraternity.  When we got to talking about Corpus, the dad’s eyes lit up and he looked at me with a big grin and said, “Oh, we used to live in Corpus.  We loved it there, and my son had his Bar Mitzvah with Rabbi Roseman!” It turns out that I was talking to Ed McKinley!  They have fond memories of their time here in Corpus and at CBI.  Ed says hello, and Ryan and Alec have uncovered a mutual connection to CBI that will strengthen their friendship as the years go by.  Our congregation is strong and proud.  The relationships we create and nurture here at CBI are important, and those relationships reach far beyond our walls.   

L’Shalom,
Greg                                             
Gregory Marks
President, Congregation Beth Israel

 
President's Message - October 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  Although it seems trite, I will say that this year has flown by, and we are certainly kicking it into high gear for next few months.  Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchas Torah, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, oh, and that little event called Food Fest are all taking place over the next few months.  Throw in everything else that we inevitably deal with during this time of year, and we are all going to be overworked and highly stressed individuals.  My question is, what can we do about it?  I have two thoughts.  First, although the primary purpose of Yom Kippur is to pray for forgiveness of our sins, it is also a full day when nothing else is on our plates.  So while you are at Temple listening to the familiar prayers and the beautiful music, or when you are at home during the afternoon, take a few minutes for yourself.  Let the hectic pace of life wash away for a few minutes, and think about what is truly important.  Think about your family, your friends, and our community.  And remember that part of the reason why we are so busy is that we are trying to make our lives and the lives of our friends and family and community better. 

My second thought has to do with forgiveness. We are in the middle of the 10 days of repentance.  This is when we are supposed to ask each other for forgiveness.  It is something I have tended to do haphazardly over the years – sometimes more, sometimes less.  However, each time I have talked to someone about forgiveness, I have felt better, calmer and more centered.  It didn’t matter if there was a specific incident I was talking about, or if it was just a general conversation.  I felt better, and so did the person I was talking with.  I encourage each of you to give it a try.  Talk to someone (Jewish or not), and have a meaningful conversation about something you did or didn’t do.  Ask that person for forgiveness and I promise that you will both feel better.  

I leave you with a traditional Yom Kippur prayer:

To those I may have wronged, I ask forgiveness.
To those I may have helped, I wish I had done more.
To those I neglected to help, I ask for understanding.
To those who helped me, I thank you with all my heart.

G’mar Hatimah Tovah,
May you be sealed in the book of life.

Greg                                             
Gregory Marks
President, Congregation Beth Israel

 
President's Message - September 2019 PDF Print E-mail


Dear friends,


Keeping it  cool  at the Temple…

The new condenser units arrived yesterday, and the new air handler is scheduled to ship from the factory on September 10th.  What this really means (I hope this doesn’t jinx it) is that we are going to have a COOL auditorium for High Holy Days!  Many thanks to the hardworking people at ProTech for working with us to provide a good, cost effective solution for our air conditioning needs. 

Speaking of cool places, I spent Labor Day weekend at Greene Family Camp working with a dedicated crew of staff and fellow youth group advisors to create an amazing weekend experience for 120 high school teens from across Texas and Oklahoma, including two of our own.    The weekend included all the usual camp activities like sports, art, music, swimming, campfire, and just hanging out, but because this was a NFTY-TOR youth group event, there was so much more.   The teens participated in programs and discussions that focused on Yiddish, our Eastern European Jewish roots, and the contributions of Jews to American society.  We played the “game of life” which focused on how factors like income and access to health insurance impact outcomes when families are faced with challenges like illness, loss of a job or unexpected major expenses.  In connection with Saturday morning prayer, the teens incorporated art, original music, and debate into the service.  The group I participated in debated the topic, “Which is more important in Judaism, prayer or actions.”  The success of this weekend is due, in no small part, to the efforts of Ethan Lane-Miller who is the new regional advisor of NFTY-TOR.  Ethan brings a youthful exuberance and playfulness to his role of advising our region.  The teens are drawn to him, and if this event is any indication, we are in store for a really fun and exciting year.  The next opportunity to participate in an event at GFC is the weekend of November 1st.  I hope all of our parents consider giving their children the opportunity to participate! 

The High Holy Days are right around the corner.  It is a time of reflection, renewal, and rejuvenation.   We take time to reflect on the past year, make amends for our sins, and look forward to a new year with a clean slate.  We must also keep in our hearts the people in the Bahamas who are suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Dorian.  In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we are all too familiar with the hardship facing people caught in the path of a hurricane.  We are grateful that Dorian spared Florida, and pray that she spares the rest of the coastal United States.  Unfortunately, we must also be cognizant of the times in which we live.  This past weekend we experienced another senseless mass shooting.  As the High Holy Days approach, our safety and security is foremost in my thoughts.  With this in mind, I want you all to know that an off duty Corpus Christ Police Officer will be present at every service throughout the High Holy Days. 

I wish you all a healthy, happy and sweet new year.  Most especially, I wish us all a year of peace.

L’Shalom,
                                       
Gregory Marks
President, Congregation Beth Israel

 
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.

L’shalom,

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

 
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