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Home From the President
From the President
President's Message - January 2019 PDF Print E-mail
At the December Shabbat Family service approximately 75 Congregants and friends joined together for a wonderful Hanukkah celebration with  prayer, song, latkes and brisket. Most of all we once again were a community, a family of families who came together to celebrate how the Maccabees’ fought against the forced assimilation of  Jews into the Seleucid empire. I thank Rabbi Emanuel for organizing and conducting the family service as well as working with the guitarist to bring an invigorating upbeat vibe to the service.  A special thanks to Venita Crow, David Jacobs, Mari Randolph and Linda Bustillo for the  preparing the 4 briskets, over 250 latkes, and the Hanukkah decorations. I will declare the evening a wonderful success as most of the food was eaten and the atmosphere in the room was filled with wonderful conversation and laughter.

The following Shabbat service was attended by approximately 20 or so people which is more in line with our usual 20-35 Shabbat Service attendees. As you might expect I and others in the Congregation recognize service attendance in most churches and synagogues is generally declining in the United states and elsewhere. I am concerned about our attendance but I am more concerned about a much larger related issue –how do we individually and as a congregation identify ourselves as Jews? As American Jews we are very fortunate to be able to live comfortable and often affluent lives. However, unlike in past generations we can go through our daily lives without giving any thought to our Jewish identity and practices. The pessimists contend that if this trend continues, we will have as a people accomplished what the Maccabees successfully fought to prevent—complete assimilated of the Jewish people into the general culture with little distinction except for birth or adopting Judaism by choice.

Jews have survived over 5,000 years because we have always been part of an acculturation process in which we religiously and culturally made adjustment so we could survive as a Jewish people amidst  non-Jewish majority cultures. Although change has taken place acculturation has always demanded that we keep the major truths of Judaism. Examples would be God, Torah, literacy, Israel, care for other Jews, concern and care for the poor, prayer, defending the Jewish people from assaults from outsiders, sustaining the Jewish community, willing to fight or relocate to avoid conversion, questioning others and treating people fairly, respectfully and justly. The challenge today is to determine how we balance our acculturation process into American culture by finding ways to understand and practice the basic tenets of Judaism so that we are not completely  assimilation into society and lose our identity as a Jewish people. 

Acculturation requires intentional change which is not always easy or accepted by all community members but we have done it for many years. Let’s use  Hanukkah as an example and three major symbols of the Holiday- Gifts, Dreidel and Latkes. The emphasis on gifts came in response to Christmas, Dreidel  was a 16th century Irish gambling game and latkes were made by Poles long before Jews migrated to central Europe. These well-known symbols of Hanukkah were all adopted over time as part of our Jewish acculturation process 

As we begin the new year CBI will be taking an in depth look at how we can provide the spiritual, educational, and cultural programs and services that will best serve our diverse Coastal Bend Jewish Community. You will be asked to complete at least one major survey  and will have the opportunity  to attend meetings to discuss the results of the survey and your vision for CBE. In essence we will be discovering how you individually and we as a congregation will define our Jewish identity in the future. Your participation is critical to the success of the process and the future of Congregation Beth Israel. 

Wishing all of you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.
Jim Gold, CBI President 

President's Message - December 2018 PDF Print E-mail
The 2018 Sisterhood Food Fest was an unqualified spectacular success. The crowds appeared larger and the whole operation from the kitchen to the shops ran very smoothly. We all owe a great deal of thanks to the Food Fest “Top Dogs”, Chris Adler and Phyllis Roseman who organized a great team and supported them from the summer planning through the actual and Food Fest event in November. I want to thank several people who played critical overall leadership roles including Rikki Schmitchel, David Jacobs, Sue Williams, and Laura Hausman whose knowledge and dedication were constantly demonstrated and an inspiration to us all. Of course,  most importantly, we thank our Congregants and friends who worked so hard  to make sure every venue was the best it could be resulting in an incredible experience that all the members of CBI and the Corpus Christi community can be proud of.  Thank you all!!

In November our CBI committees began meeting as restructured teams and addressing the current and future needs of CBI. The Programs and Services Team discussed how our congregants’ needs and interests may be addressed through adult education, social action, and library programs.  A preliminary list of programs and services was created and will be prioritized at the December meeting. The priority will be to fill the remainder of the calendar year with exciting activities and then look to the future.  The Finance and Operations Team addressed budget, dues, security and operational topics. The December meeting will delve deeper into these topics and explore a CBI Development Program. The Ritual and Cemetery Team met in October and reviewed the High Holiday Services, cemetery upkeep and long-range cemetery maintenance. One outcome of this meeting is that we have received a commitment from Rabbi Vernon to return next year to again conduct the Traditional Service in the Chapel. This is the first time in a number of years these committees have been truly active and the discussions have been interesting and enlightening since the Teams are made up of a cross-section of our congregation. I urge congregants who have an interest in any of our Teams (see article in the newsletter) to contact the Temple Office and volunteer.

The tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue shook us to our core with shock, disbelief, and eventually the reality this can happen in the United States.  It is important to recognize the national outrage by individuals and groups of all faiths and walks of life who stood with us in protesting this terrible crime of hate. At the local level, our Service of Hope drew a large crowd from across the community as the participants represented a true cross-section of the Corpus Christi community including people and clergy from all faiths. People attended because they wanted to not only mourn those lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue but to show their support for us and demonstrate their hope for the future. I feel blessed to live in a community where we are not alone in our stand against hate, no matter who the targets are.

Wishing all a happy and festive Hanukkah.

Jim Gold, CBI President
President's Message - September 2018 PDF Print E-mail
In the coming days you will hear the greeting “Shana Tova” used over and over again at CBI.  It is a greeting used during the High Holidays that many of us heard first as youngsters and understand the translation to be Happy New Year or have a good year. I want to suggest that the greeting may have an alternative meaning  which better conveys more than just hope for the new year but reflects our responsibility to act.

In Hebrew words are usually made up of 2 or more root letters that when combined with other vowels can take on another meaning. Adding other  vowels to  the three root letters of “shanah” you can create the word “shoneh” which means to be “different” or the verb “l’shanot”, which means to “change”.  

To me, thinking of  “l’shana Tova” as meaning “change” truly conveys what the High Holidays are about. Individually we must act by reflecting internally and externally on how we have improved or changed over the past year and what we need to improve or change next year to make ourselves, our families, our communities and yes, our congregation better. 

I leave it to each of you to reflect and identify changes that will improve yourselves, family, and community. However, I am asking that each member, young and old, new or tenured, traditional or reform, to consider new ways to increase your Jewish identity at CBI.  Attend programs and services, serve on one of our new Committee Teams, volunteer to participate in services (light the candles/carry the Torah), participate in adult education activities or volunteer a few hours in the office to help CBI flourish by helping provide the programs and services needed to meet the diverse needs of our “Family of Families.

You will also have an opportunity this year to tell us how we can serve you better through a Strategic Planning Process which will include survey(s) and discussion groups. Please take advantage of these opportunities to help us reflect on how we can meet the  current and changing needs of our congregants. Our goal, through your involvement, is to be a welcoming congregation that flourishes now and in the future by serving the  Jewish spiritual, educational, and social needs  of our diverse Coastal Bend Jewish community.

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the High Holiday services. Remember there are no tickets, fees or dues requirements. Just come and welcome the new year with friends.

L’Shana Tova-
Wishing you all a happy New Year  and good changes for 5779.
Jim Gold, CBI President 

From the President - August 2018 PDF Print E-mail

I want to thank our Family of Families” for entrusting me with the honor leading CBI in continuing to bring , meaningful opportunities for our members to worship, learn, work, and celebrate our treasured Jewish traditions and continue to build positive relations with the Greater Coastal Bend community.

This past year was very successful and we are off to a great start this year. Plans for the High Holiday services are well underway as we have 1) hired Rabbi Ari Vernon from Houston to conduct our traditional services, 2) are arranging  readers for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and  3) planning for the Break the Fast. Food Fest Is off to a fast start under the direction of Phyllis Roseman and Chris Adler with David Jacobs Coordinating the food and Sue Williams coordinating the other shops. Of course, Rikki Schmitchel is working her magic throughout the event.  This past week, the Sunday School staff and Rabbi Emanuel met with ISJL representatives to discuss changes in the Sunday School curriculum. I believe the ideas suggested will enhance each child’s Sunday school experience.  Put August 24th on your calendar as the first family dinner. We will be celebrating the end of summer with a “Family of Families” indoor picnic.

My overall vision for CBI this year is to increase the quality of our programs and services so they are tailored to the needs of our congregants. In order to achieve this, we are activating our various committees to identify  needs and developing long and short-term strategies for addressing them. We will be organizing this effort over the next 30 days and will keep you informed of our progress. 

Looking forward to working with you to make CBI the best we can be in serving the entire Coastal Bend Jewish Community.

Thank you,
Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - June & July 2018 PDF Print E-mail

On April 1, 2018 CBI began our 2018-2019 fiscal year after a rather tumultuous 2017-18 year.  As I look back I see our year constantly shifting with joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, wonderment and grief, and caring and concern. Take a walk back with me through memory lane of a sample of events that our “Family of Families” experienced this past year:

 · We started with the High Holidays where many of our congregants joyfully participated in the services and delighted in the Yom Kippur breaking of the fast

· The beautification day at Hebrew Rest provided everyone the opportunity to respect and pay tribute to those who passed before us. 

· The success of our Sisterhood Food Fest provided good will for our Corpus Christi community and welcome financial funds for CBI. 

· Our annual Passover Seder was enjoyed by all in attendance.   

· We viewed Israeli movies that were humorous, dramatic and always had an important message. 

· Rabbi Emanuel and Rabbi Roseman presented stimulating adult education lecture series.  

· Our youth were involved in many camp and other activities designed to immerse them in their Jewish culture and heritage. 

· Reform services were held every Friday night and conservative services on Saturday morning.  

· Torah study took place every Saturday.  

· We had a very moving Yom HaShoa service highlighted by the musical performance by Batsheva. 

· Our Mitzvah Committee provided monthly meals and support for those who are homebound. 

· Our Social Action Committee provided socks and food for the homeless among their many activities. 

· Our Shabbat family dinners were well received and a time for Congregants to welcome the Shabbat with friends and family. 

· Congregants responded to Hurricane Harvey by helping clean up in Port Aransas and assisting Congregants by arranging shelter, food and ensuring their basic needs were met.  

· We conducted life cycle events including the naming of babies, weddings and funerals. 

· Our year was  topped off with a beautiful Confirmation Service created and lead by our confirmation students as they described personal heroes they would like to emulate.  

On April 1, 2018 CBI began our 2018-2019 fiscal year after a rather tumultuous 2017-18 year.  As I look back I see our year constantly shifting with joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, wonderment and grief, and caring and concern. Take a walk back with me through memory lane of a sample of events that our “Family of Families” experienced this past year:  

This is a sampling of the comprehensive and diverse social, religious, and educational programs and services provided to CBI Congregants this past year. These offerings would not be possible if were not for Rabbi Emanuel and the many volunteers who put in countless hours to make these events happen. I want to extend my personal appreciation to our Board of Trustees who have done an excellent job in managing our Temple. A special thanks to Debbie Bustillo, Mike Trimyer, Natalie Honigbaum and Linda Bustillo who ensure CBI is well run, maintained beautifully, and safe. I believe we can say this has been a great year. 

In the coming year we look forward to continuing to provide outstanding programs and services but we also need to take a closer look at how we can effectively address the challenges of decreased membership, declining financial support, and meeting the diverse needs of our Jewish community. Over the next year we will be undertaking a strategic planning process that can only be as good as your participation. There will likely be a Congregation Survey and meetings to discuss our identified needs and develop strategies for addressing them over the next 5-10 years. It is clear that we can no longer just plan from year to year but must look ahead and plan for changing conditions over time. I will be asking each of you to engage in the Temple planning so that CBI can continue to lead the Coastal Bend Jewish community by meeting our congregants diverse social, religious, education, and cultural needs. 

Finally, I urge all of you to attend the Congregation Beth Israel Annual Meeting at 6:00 PM on Thursday June 28, 2018.  We will hold elections for Board of Trustees positions, approve the 2018-19 budget, and enjoy a great David Jacobs cookout dinner.

Until then, I wish you all an outstanding summer.

 Jim Gold, CBI President

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