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Home From the President
From the 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 

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
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