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From the President
President's Message - May 2018 PDF Print E-mail

In April, Congregation Beth Israel provided an exciting array of programs and services for our Congregation to enjoy.  We offered 2 Israeli movies that were both thought provoking and entertaining. We saw the #1 Israeli movie entitled the Women’s Balcony (preceded with pizza) and later in the month we celebrated Yom Haatzmaut, Jewish Independence Day, with the showing of the popular Israeli film, The Bands Visit which is now a Broadway play. Both of these movies provided us a glimpse into some of the religious and social dynamics of life in Israel today. Both DVD’s are available through our CBI Library.

On Yom HaShoa, we experienced a remarkable evening of remembrance of the Holocaust with prayer, song and storytelling.  Rabbi Emanuel, accompanied by Holocaust survivor Nina Shannon, walked silently through the  sanctuary carrying  our relished Holocaust Torah. The Rabbi then read a portion of the Song of the Sea from the Torah which reminded us of earlier freedoms achieved. Rev. Sean Maloney provided an ecumenical prayer for all those who died and suffered during the Holocaust regardless of religion. Then Batsheva our visiting musician, singer, and storyteller, beautifully and emotionally sang songs in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino memorializing the evening. She also told stories of people, places, events, and heroes of the time.  There were over 80 people in attendance including many visitors from various churches in the community. We were pleased that at the wine and cheese gathering after the service, our guests and congregants alike expressed how unique, moving and meaningful the experience had been.

I am so excited that recently 14 students accompanied by Greg Marks and Margaret Barnett attended a weekend session at Greene Family camp. Under the leadership of Greg, our youth have experienced their “Jewishness” through not only formal learning but by both having the opportunity to interact with Jewish youth from all over the state and being immersed in Jewish camps, weekend events, and visiting places like the Houston Holocaust Museum. These are the experiences that allow our youth to not only learn about being Jewish, but truly live and feel the Jewish experience which will remain with them forever.

Speaking of youth, I encourage everyone to attend the Confirmation/Shabbat/family dinner evening on May 11 at 6:30 P.M. This service is unique in that the students will be conducting the service and providing their insights into the prayers and what Confirmation means to them. Dinner in honor of the Confirmation Class will be provided by their parents. This is an event you won’t want to miss.

Please set aside the evening of June 28, 2018 to attend the Congregation Beth Israel Annual Meeting. You will receive details of the event later in the month.

     Have a great month.

               Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - April 2018 PDF Print E-mail

The March Family Service and Purim celebration was a joy for all who attended. We were treated to a Rock Musical Purim service highlighted by the Megellah being sang to the tune of rock tunes. Following the service, we were treated to a wonderful Mediterranean dinner prepared and served by the Middle East Market. Special thanks go out to Rabbi Emanuel and Dianne Stillman who created and performed the Purim Rock Musical and to Marcus Lozano for arranging the dinner and to Sue Williams for the Purim piñatas and decorations.

This month we are looking forward to several events at CBI. On April 14th I urge you to join us to view the 2016 #1 Israeli Film entitled, “The Women’s Balcony.” This is a comedy/drama about women speaking the truth to patriarchal power. The film is equally humorous and thought provoking. Pizza will be served at 1:00 pm and the movie will start at 1:30 pm. It will be great fun.

Thanks to Randi Emanuel and Leslie Green, CBI will be holding a rummage sale on April 22, 2018. This is a 100% fundraiser for CBI, so I encourage you participate by donating lightly used goods and furniture and volunteering to assist with the sale. If we all pitch-in we can make this sale a great success.

Torah Study will be  different for the next 7 weeks as we will shift from studying the Torah to examining the Pirkei Avot, often translated as the “Ethics of our Fathers”. Although you may not be familiar with the Pirkei Avot you may be more familiar with the many sayings and aphorisms it contains. There is no halachah or Jewish law, but it is critically important because it provides an important window into our Jewish traditions.  It will generate interesting discussions and be a great group learning experience. I encourage everyone to attend.

Finally, I want to express my sincerest congratulations and thanks to Debbie Bustillo who just celebrated her 10-year anniversary at CBI. Her dedication and ability to effectively juggle all the responsibilities of the CBI office is an incredible asset to CBI. Thank you Debbie for all you do for us.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at our wonderful April events.

     Thank you,
               Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - March 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Members,

We had a fantastic time at the February Family Shabbat dinner which featured a Jewish camp theme. Approximately 65 congregants enjoyed a great chicken dinner with all the trimmings, sang songs, and experienced the joy of coming together for Shabbat. The Jewish camping experience provides our youth the opportunity to meet and bond with other Jewish youth, learn about and practice Jewish traditions, and deepen their commitment to Judaism. This is also the time we will be sending out applications for camp scholarships which relieve a portion the parents’ financial burden. Please be aware the funding for camp scholarships comes from special funds established through the generosity of individuals and families.  You can support camp scholarships funds by earmarking your discretionary donations for that purpose.

In March we be celebrating both Purim and Passover. On March 2 we will be hold our Purim Shabbat Service.  The celebration will include a special Purim Rock Opera musical by Rabbi Emanuel and Diane Stillman with instrumental accompaniment. The family dinner will be a  Middle East delight with cabbage rolls, falafel, Mediterranean salad and of course that Purim standard -  hamentaschen. We thank Marcus Lozano for arranging this special culinary delight. It will be a celebration to remember.

On March 31 we will have our second night CBI Community Passover Seder which always draws a full house. It is a wonderful event which reminds us of our forefathers’ exodus from Egyptian bondage which set them on the path to Mt. Sinai. It is also a reminder that today we have the responsibility of Tikkun Olam to help repressed, enslaved and downtrodden people. Be sure to get your reservations in early since there is a limited number of seats available.

In February the CBI Board of Trustees voted to design a proposal for developing a Congregation Beth Israel Strategic Plan. The proposal will provide a way to collect and analyze information regarding our Jewish community’s shifting demographics, congregants’ current and future needs, and strategies for meeting those identified needs. The total process will take 9-12 months to complete and will provide Congregation Beth Israel a vision and blueprint for the future.

We have instituted a few changes in our Friday night Shabbat service that I would encourage your participation.  Congregants are now doing the Blessing of the Candles and the carrying of the Torah through the synagogue as part of the Torah service. Women and men can participate in either activity or you may do this as a family.  This change has been very well received and congregants are greatly moved by the event. Call Debbie at the temple office and we will work out the scheduling on a date convenient to you.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at our wonderful February events.

                    Thank you,
                              Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - February 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Members,

The January Shabbat family dinner was a culinary delight that reminded us all of how the family Shabbat dinner brings us together in a very special way. We enjoyed an outstanding “traditional” meal with many extras, kibitzed with old friends and met new people. The genuine feeling of Shabbat was highlighted with the singing of several songs lead by Rabbi Emanuel. As I walked around the room I could truly feel that our “family of families” was connecting to each other and to our Jewish heritage. We thank Venita Crow, Linda Snider, Sue Williams, and Randi Emanuel for meticulously planning, preparing and serving the meal and providing the beautiful decorations.

Our Social Action Committee was very active this month preparing food and delivering it to the homeless of Corpus Christi via the Salvation Army Food Truck. As a result, many of our less fortunate residents received not only food but support and compassion from our Congregation. Thank you, Linda and Dean Snider, Sue Williams, Andrea and Art Bussy, and Nelda Garcia for your dedication and hard work in genuinely exemplifying our core value of Tikkun Olam.

The last Shabbat of the month Torah portion was B’shalach which for most of us is better known as the Song of the Sea. Rabbi Emanuel read the Torah portion from the Holocaust Scroll encased in glass on the side of sanctuary. I had mixed emotions of joy knowing that this represented both freedom for Jews 2000 years ago and sadness that the scroll belonged to those who not only lost their freedom but also their lives because they were Jewish.  This reading also provides the hope that despite setbacks and barriers the Jewish people have always adjusted to changing conditions to not only to survive but to thrive.  

The development and implementation of a Strategic Planning Process (SPP) for Congregation Beth Israel will be discussed at the Board of Trustees February meeting. As a result of the SPP our congregation will have a clear and documented understanding of 1) our current vision, strengths and challenges, 2) how demographic and other changes in our community may impact our congregation’s needs over the next 10 years, and 3) the strategies needed to address the anticipated changes in our congregations needs. Most importantly this collaborative process will be designed to make sure every member of the congregation will have several opportunities to contribute to the development of this plan.

I look forward to working with each of you on this most important project --your contribution will be critical to helping us develop a plan that will ensure CBI will provide the religious, educational, social and charitable programs required for the Coastal Bend Jewish community to thrive long into the future.  

                    Thank you,
                              Jim Gold, CBI President

President's Message - January 2018 PDF Print E-mail
This month I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2017 URJ Biennial in Boston, Massachusetts. I had no idea of what to expect, however, from the opening general session I knew I was in for a once in a lifetime experience.  I was truly moved by the awe-inspiring general assembly speakers, high quality learning sessions, integration of modern and traditional Jewish music, and the spirituality that was infused into the entire 5 days. Overall, I enjoyed meeting and conversing with fellow Jews from all walks of life and Congregations – there was truly a sense of “Jewishness” felt throughout the Biennial.

Inspiration came from outstanding speakers such as Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker, Reverend William Barber, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the “Nanny” Fran Drescher.  Each speaker identified challenges we face as Americans and Jews living in a polarized world and eloquently emphasized the necessity for each of us to increase our civil dialogue, participate in advocacy initiatives and engage in our communities in order to make the them even better. The issues raised were about social justice, inclusion of all people, a shared responsibility for all of us to engage in helping people and to live up to our Jewish imperative of Tikkun Olam. As we do these things individually and as a congregation we are fostering a vibrant Judaism that is responsive to our diverse congregation and community needs in 2018 and beyond.

I was pleased to be joined at the 2017 URJ Biennial by CBI First Vice President Rikki Schmitchel and CBI Sunday School Director Manuela Sela. We attended many of the general events together but each of us took advantage of different quality learning sessions that we felt would be valuable for us individually. We all came away from these learning sessions more knowledgeable and inspired to serve our Congregation.

My personal highlight of the 2017 URJ Biennial conference happened during the Saturday morning Shabbat service where the representatives of Congregations whose members directly impacted by recent natural disasters were given the honor to carry a Torah throughout the Hall as part of the Torah service.  I was especially moved standing on the stage looking out at the 5,500 congregants, listening in complete silence, to Rabbi Ric Jacobs compassionate words describing the terrible consequences the disasters had taken on our Jewish communities and camps.  Then I carried the Torah through the audience with the people clamoring to touch the Torah and expressing their compassion, concern and well wishes to those effected by the disasters. It was truly a special moment for me that will always be a source of inspiration and hope.

As a temple leader, my main take away from the learning sessions and discussions with other congregation board members is the need for us to engage in creating a CBI Strategic Plan that will build upon our current strengths and develop strategies and actions for meeting the challenges we face. Through this process we will have specific directions as to our finances, membership, programs, services, cemeteries, facilities and any operational responsibility of the Board of Trustees.  

Finally, I need to tell you that as I talked to people from other cities about our social action activities, our educational programs, and especially Food Fest they were so impressed that a congregation our size does so much. How proud and honored I am to have the privilege to lead our special ‘Family of Families”.

Happy New Year to all
          Jim Gold, CBI President

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