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Home From the President
From the 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

Presient's Message - December 2017 PDF Print E-mail
I want to thank and congratulate the more than 50 Congregants and friends of CBI for your monumental effort in making Food Fest so successful. Final figures will be available in the near future but now we can all be proud of the funds raised. Just as important I continuously felt the sense of “family” as people cooked together, served food, and assisted in the various “Shops”. People met new people and reunited with old friends in a very positive manner. Finally, our guests were so pleased with the great food and fast lines that many were repeat customers from not only past years but returned on Sunday after feasting on Saturday. What greater compliment can we have than repeat business. In summary, I believe when all the final data is in we will be able, because of you, to declare Food Fest 2017 the best ever.

December is a busy month with Hanukah celebrations and our annual December 25th movie and Chinese dinner event. CBI will be having 2 Hanukah events. First, our Hanukah Shabbat family dinner will be held at CBI on Friday, December 15, 2017. We will have a family service followed by a traditional Hanukah family dinner. Second, CBI and JCC are co-sponsoring a Hanukah celebration on Tuesday, December 12th, 6:00pm-8:00pm at the JCC. This will be a special and fun evening with latkes, lighting the large and personal menorahs, and a ton of family fun. Special this year is an appearance by Joe Buchanan who sings and plays guitar with a southern soul and country charm. It will be a fun evening for the entire Jewish community. Please check the special announcement in this bulletin for more details.

On December 25th, we will be holding our traditional Chinese dinner and movie in which we all gather together for a fun evening of food and culture. The movie this year is the Life of Pi which is a beautiful, thought provoking and highly reviewed film. Come and enjoy this wonderful CBI tradition with your Family of Families.

We have all successfully navigated through the High Holidays and Food Fest and worked very hard to help our Congregants, nearby communities and other Jewish Congregations recover from Hurricane Harvey but now we need to turn our attention to our overall CBI operations and programs. The Membership Committee plans strategies and activities for sustaining CBI by developing ways for us to attract new member and retain our current membership while the Fund Raising Committee is charged with finding ways to create additional income. Both of these Committees are critical for ensuring CBI flourishes now and in the future. As times change we, like most Congregations, are having to find new creative ways to maintain the challenges of membership and funding. We need your help as your ideas and support are critical to our success. Please E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information and to join the Membership Committee and/or Fund Raising Committee.

Looking forward to seeing you at Shabbat services and our December events.  Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

    Jim Gold,
    CBI President

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

In October, I had an opportunity to meet with Congregations in Texas that had been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The meeting was led by Ric Jacobs head of the URJ who was assisted by several of his staff members. They described the situations in Florida, the Caribbean and California where fires destroyed a Jewish camp. He described the physical, human, financial and psychological toll of all these events. Each individual description was horrendous but the aggregate of all these events was simply overwhelming. After his description, each of us told our own stories which was heart wrenching. However, within each sad story there appeared another story of how people bonded together to help each other regardless of past histories, politics or personal costs. People created new friendships and renewed old ones despite past relationships.

I had three takeaways from this session that I would like to share with you. First, most of our Congregation fared much better than those who lived in the Houston area. Second, as a Congregation we did a wonderful job of aggressively identifying our congregants who needed help and assisting them. Third, it really put in perspective what is important in life.  All of us face challenges which feel so important at the time but are more or less transitional and go away over days, weeks or months. However, events like Hurricane Harvey are transformational and truly change lives forever.  When facing challenges as both individuals and as a Congregation we need to think about whether the challenge is transitional or transformational and act accordingly in the best interest of all.
Jim Gold, CBI President

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