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From the President
President's Message - April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you well – safe and secure in your homes.  I pray that the only issues you are dealing with are boredom and a shortage of toilet paper.  These are difficult times, and as the Coronavirus continues to spread across our community, we will all be impacted.  Some of us will get sick, others will have their jobs impacted.  Our lives have been put on hold, our children’s lives have been uprooted, and we are all nervous about what the future will bring.  I wish that I could promise you that everything will be OK.  I cannot.  We can, however, remain hopeful that Corpus Christi will be spared the worst of the virus, and no matter what, we will face this together.  CBI is your temple.  We are family, and we are here for you.  We are here for each other.  

I want to take this opportunity to thank Rabbi Emanuel for his leadership during these trying times.  He embraced the “virtual reality” we find ourselves in and pulled together our live-streamed Services and Torah study in a matter of days. Thank you, Rabbi!   In accordance with CDC guidelines, the Temple will be closed, but we will continue to provide virtual services through at least April 30th.  Although our virtual services are really good, and we are all enjoying them, I can’t wait to see all of you in person at the temple when this is all over!  

Passover begins next week.  Even though it is a holiday that is traditionally observed at home, this year is obviously going to be different.  Our seders will be smaller, and we will not be able to gather at the temple for our 2nd night Seder.  This year, the joy of retelling the story of our people being freed from slavery in Egypt will be tempered by the reality that we are all being held captive by the Coronavirus.   This year, in addition to giving thanks for our freedom, let us pray for an end to the scourge that is the Coronavirus.  

My friends, please stay safe and stay healthy.  Rabbi and I will continue to reach out over the phone to check on how you are doing, and we encourage you to call us if you need anything.  In the meantime, please keep practicing social distancing until we are advised that it is safe to resume normal activities.    

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

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

As you read through the bulletin, you will notice that we have a lot going on at CBI this month.  In addition to our regular services Torah study and religious school, Purim is coming up, and that means a Purim carnival and a Megillah reading.  Our sock drive is heating up, Anat Hoffman will be here March 14th /15th, the police department will lead an active shooter training on March 16th, and Rabbi David Wolfman will join us March 29th.   Yikes!  That’s a lot of stuff to do, and a lot of trips to the temple.  Why should I do all of that?  Well, that’s a good question.  Rabbi Emanuel touched on part of the reason in his article.  At CBI, we strive to be a Kehillah Kedoshah – a holy community.  The activities and programs that we offer give each of us an opportunity to get together in fellowship and friendship.  Whether we are praying or playing or laughing or learning, we are gathered together as a community.  I believe that community is important.  It is my “why” of being involved in the Jewish community.  

Each of us has our own “why”, our own reason for why CBI is important.  On March 29th, our special guest, Rabbi David Wolfman, will help us explore this concept in a discussion called “Finding your WHY.”  It is a conversation that I am really looking forward to participating in, and I look forward to learning what your “why” is as well.  

Someone who found her “Why” many years ago is Anat Hoffman.  She has fought for women’s rights and the rights of all Reform Jews in Israel for decades.  Although she will not remember me, I had the privilege of meeting Anat Hoffman while I was living in Florida.  She is a dynamic speaker who literally travels the world advocating for inclusion and equality.  It is truly an honor for us to have the opportunity to host her in Corpus Christi.  I encourage each of you to attend her talks.  You will not be disappointed.  

The next program I want to expand on is not fun, but it is important.  The Corpus Christi Police Department will present its Active Shooter training to us on March 16th at 6:00 pm.  Hopefully, none of us will ever be faced with this situation, but we owe it to ourselves to be prepared.  

OK, let’s end on a happy note.  PURIM is coming!  Hamantaschen, groggers, costumes.  Let’s have a party!  Please come out to our Purim party on Saturday, March 7th.  It’s gonna be FUN!!!

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

 
President's Message - February 2020 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the URJ Biennial in This past weekend, I joined four of our teens and almost a hundred others at NFTY-TOR’s Winter Conclave in San Antonio.  While these weekends are exhausting (yes, they make us adults work!), they are also invigorating, uplifting and extremely gratifying.  It is a joy to watch our teens pray and play and learn together.  Yes, learn.  We engaged in spirited conversations about Israel and its importance, its challenges, and its place in modern American Jewish society.  On Saturday, we discussed inclusion, gender identity, and acceptance of people who may be different from you.  Then the teens participated in team building exercises, went on a scavenger hunt in downtown San Antonio, exchanged “white elephant” gifts, and ended the day with Havdalah and a pajama party.  These kids are developing lifelong friendships, and they are also forging lifetime relationships with Judaism. 

With that introduction in mind, let me speak to all the parents out there:  The next opportunity to let your kids participate in youth group is coming up this April!  Kids in 1st through 8th grades can participate in Spring Camp the weekend of April 3-5, and for teens in 9th through 12th grade, Spring Kallah is April 24-26.  If you have any questions about these two events, please give me a call!

If you believe in the value of camp and youth group but you don’t have school age children, then I encourage you to share in the joy of camp by making a donation to the Adler Camp Fund or to the Rabbi’s discretionary fund and asking him to earmark your donation to support our youth.

I would also like to encourage everyone to attend our special Shabbat service at the JCC on Friday, February 14th.  Norma Levens and our friends at the JCC are planning a special evening and dinner for our community, and I look forward to seeing many of you there.  Remember, we will be at the JCC – there will be no services at the temple that evening!

We also have two more movies in this year’s Grossman Film Series.  Please join us on February 9th and February 23rd for the screenings of “Rosenwald” which sounds fascinating and “Dough” which should be hilarious! Please show your support for the Grossman Film Series, and enjoy these two great movies. 

Finally, I would like to announce that we have renewed Rabbi Emanuel’s contract for another three year term beginning in July.  Rabbi Emanuel, thank you for your spiritual leadership and your service to our community.  We are glad that you are here!

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

 
President's Message - January 2020 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the URJ Biennial in Chicago.  It was a truly memorable, uplifting experience!  For those of you who may not be familiar with Biennial, every two years our Reform movement hosts a convention that is attended by thousands of Jews from all across North America.  There were study sessions, song sessions, plenary sessions, and a trade show.  Plus Shabbat.  Oh, my!  I have to say that attending Shabbat services surrounded by 5,000 fellow Jews is an experience that is not to be missed.  It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket of love and spirituality.  I learned a lot, and I met so many wonderful people.  I met new friends from Atlanta and Tacoma and Toronto, said hello to friends from all over Texas and reconnected with friends from my old temple in Florida.  My main takeaway from Biennial is this:  We are all facing the same issues and having the same conversations.  Regardless of size or location, everyone in the Reform movement is worried about three things.  We are worried about security, finances, and declining involvement in Temple life.  On one hand, it is comforting to know that we are not alone in our challenges, but on the other hand, it is disappointing to hear that so many congregations are facing the same challenges.  Solutions to these challenges are elusive.  Over the years, we have been taught approaches like “Relational Judaism” and “Big Tent” and “Audacious Hospitality.” These have all helped, but our challenges remain.  In particular, given today’s climate we are challenged by having to balance “audacious hospitality” with the reality of security concerns.  We are addressing our security concerns, and we all want our congregation and the Jewish community in Corpus Christi to thrive.  I believe that the best way to make this happen is for all of us to get more involved.  So, as we enter a new year and a new decade, I have a new year’s resolution that I would like each of you to add to your list.  I challenge each of you to add one new and different Jewish activity to your calendar each month.  Keep doing what you already do, but add something new.  We have lots to offer:  Torah study, movies, special events, social action events, events at Greene Family Camp, Sisterhood gatherings, and services on Friday night and Saturday morning just to name a few.  There’s lots of fun stuff to do, and it’s so much more fun if we do it together.  I hope to see you soon!

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

 
President's Message - December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends,

Can you believe it is December already???  This year has flown by in the blink of an eye!  From Thanksgiving to Chanukah to New Year, each year ends in a blur of celebrations and parties.  We reflect on what we are grateful for, and we make resolutions to do better in the year ahead.  I am grateful for my family and my friends - both my immediate family and my extended family of Congregation Beth Israel.

I would like to recognize and thank Dean Snyder for stepping up and accepting the position of Treasurer of CBI.  Dean brings a wealth of experience to the job plus a passion for fundraising.  Most importantly, Dean brings a love for the temple and for this community.  Thank you, Dean.  We are all happy to have you on board!

Food Fest was a smashing success!  I would like to thank everyone for helping out.  It takes a village to make an event like Food Fest successful.  Well, every village has its leaders, and ours is no exception.  I would like to recognize three leaders of our village whose tireless help and dedication make Food Fest possible.  Chris Adler.  Phyllis Roseman.  Rikki Schmitzel.  Thank you!!!  Thank you!!!  Thank you!!!

There is one last person that I would like to publicly thank for her service to our congregation, and that is Debbie Bustillo.  Debbie is the first point of contact that most people have with CBI, and she is involved in just about everything that we do from keeping our books to scheduling to preparing the newsletters to keeping an eye on maintenance issues.  Debbie shows up to work every day with a smile, and I am grateful that she is part of our CBI family.

I wish you all a very Happy Chanukah and a Happy New Year!  May 2020 bring us peace, happiness and a renewed commitment to our family and friends.


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

 
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