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From the President
President's Message - May 2012 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Members of CBI,

I want to begin by thanking everyone who participated in our Special Congregation meeting that resulted in the passage of important amendments to both our Congregation and Permanent Endowment Fund By-laws.  The Congregation By-law changes will allow every member in good standing the opportunity to vote in person or by proxy on issues decided at either Regular or Special Congregation Meetings, while the Endowment By-law change allows past Presidents of B’Nai Israel Synagogue, Temple Beth El and Congregation Beth Israel to serve on the Trust Committee of the Permanent Endowment Fund. In all, over 60 votes were cast representing approximately a third of our Congregation. Thank you all for your support of these important changes.

Over the past year several members have expressed their concerns regarding the condition of both the Congregation Beth Israel and B’nai Israel sections of Seaside Cemetery. Your Congregation Board also recognizes the need for improvements and has been studying what needs to be done, costs and timelines. At this point I can tell you that what appeared to be relatively simple task is much more complex and costlier than anticipated. However, we are taking 2 substantial immediate steps to initiate improvements. First, a new sprinkler system is being installed that will serve the entire Seaside Jewish section and will provide consistent watering during our South Texas dry season.  Second, we will be announcing a Mitzvah Day Project and asking volunteers to meet at the cemetery to help trim and spruce up the entire area. I will be encouraging parents to get their children involved so they can learn the responsibilities we have to maintain the cemetery out of respect for those who have left us.  In addition to these actions that will provide immediate benefits, we are engaged in developing a longer-range plan for making more substantial cemetery improvements and computerizing all the information associated with each burial site. The goal will be to have a comprehensive plan for upgrading Seaside completed this summer and for work to begin soon after.

In closing let me remind you that on May 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm we will have our last 92nd Street Y program for the spring featuring Madeleine Albright. These programs are informative, entertaining and certainly add a cultural dimension not available anywhere else in Corpus Christi. This program is open to the public so bring your friends, neighbors, and high\middle school students for a unique evening at Congregation Beth Israel.

Wishing you the best in the coming month,
      Jim Gold

President's Message - April 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Members of CBI,

In April we have at least 2 extremely important events that I want to address in my monthly column. First, is the April 1, 2012 Special Congregation Meeting that will be held at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary. The only purpose of this Special Congregation meeting is to approve amendments to both the Temple Beth Israel By-Laws and Permanent Endowment Fund By-Laws in order to (1) allow for electronic voting and proxy voting by CBI members at regular and Special Congregation meetings and (2) to allow past presidents of Temple B’nai Israel Synagogue to serve on the Permanent Endowment Committee. By enacting proxy voting and electronic voting every member of CBI including those homebound, travelling, or otherwise unable to make the meeting, can have a vote in Congregation business.  By extending the opportunity for Temple B’nai Israel past presidents to serve on the Permanent Endowment Committee we increase the number of potential members and complete the final step in the merger of the 2 organizations.

In order to pass all three proposals we need approximately 62 affirmative votes! Each family and each individual member of CBI has 1 vote. So I encourage you, if at all possible, to come and vote on April 1, 2012 so we can bring about these critical changes that will make our Congregation stronger.

After the brief meeting please join us for an evening with Rabbi\Stand up Comic Bob Alper who will provide us with an evening of Jewish humor seldom heard in Corpus Christi.

The second event in April I want to address is Passover. As we pour out the ten drops of wine to remind us of the 10 plagues set upon Egypt we might want to remind ourselves that there are many cruelties in the world today that could be considered modern day plagues.

The Haggadah lists several and you may add your own:
        *The making of war
        *The teaching of hate and violence
        *Despoliation of the earth
        *Perversion of justice and government
        *Fomenting of vice and crime
        *Neglect of human needs
        *Oppression of nations and peoples
        *Subjugation of science, learning and human discourse
        *The erosions of freedoms.

Perhaps this year as you pour the 10 drops of wine you might wish to include some of these modern day plagues first in your heart and then even out loud. For it is our fervent wish that these plagues would be cast out and all people could live peaceful, meaningful and quality lives.

                Wishing you the best,
                Jim Gold
President's Message - March 2012 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Members of CBI,

April 1, 2012 is a very important night for CBI. On that evening we will be holding a special Congregation Meeting to make 2 significant changes to our CBI By-laws. The first is to expand the potential membership on the Endowment Committee to former Presidents of Temple Israel. The Endowment Committee oversees our endowment trust fund of approximately $1.6 million dollars. This fund represents both a present financial safety net for CBI and a source of funds for supporting CBI in the future. Most importantly, it symbolizes the final step in the merger process since all past presidents of both congregations will be eligible to serve on this most important committee.

The second By-law change is to allow the Congregation to vote electronically on Congregation business. This change is important since it has been virtually impossible to gather enough people for the Annual Congregation Meeting in June to meet the quorum requirements for congregation votes. The new rules would allow eligible members to vote via computer, mail or in person. 

In the next few weeks you will be receiving more information about this important event. Please feel free to call the CBI office or myself if you have any questions.

The Special Congregation meeting should only take 10-15 minutes and will be followed by a very special treat for all of us. Rabbi Bob Alper, who hails from Vermont will be delighting us with a wonderful evening of Jewish humor. His performance is sure to be an entertaining for all of us. I urge you to come, laugh and enjoy--you won’t be disappointed.

I want to thank the Sisterhood under the leadership of Robin Adams for the beautiful service they created and provided us on September 24th. Rikki  Schmitchel  created an original and spiritual service that was conducted so movingly by Sisterhood members. A special thanks to Laurie Bryce and Diana Stillman for their beautiful music that added so much to a special spiritual evening. I am already  looking forward to next years service.

Have a good month and I will hopefully see all of you on April 1, 2012 for the Congregation meeting and a wonderful night of entertainment.
     Jim Gold

President's Message - February 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Members of CBI,

January has been a very exciting month for the Jewish community in Corpus Christi. Friday night services have been well attended and the Saturday study group continues to dissect Pirke Avot with thoughtful discussions, mixed with a little nosh and humor.  On January  11, 2012 many, many congregants attended a terrific production of Fiddler on the Roof.  Although many of us had seen it in the past it was a terrific reminder of our history and heritage. In fact, a group of religious school students were guests of the congregation and discussed the implications of the play during Sunday classes. What a terrific way to learn. On Saturday January 14th we “packed” the sanctuary for a wonderful evening of Soul Aviv.  The group from California provided a variety of songs that were both inspirational and just plain fun. At the end of the month

we had a Friday night pulpit guest Ron Bernstein who presented great insights into Israel today. This was a full month of culture, Torah and education which brought our congregation together on many different levels. Thank you for all who participated.

February offers even more. On February 2 Elliot Chodoff will speak at the Combined Jewish Appeal dinner. He spoke last year and by all accounts was a terrific speaker who provided great insight into the conditions in Israel today. On February 18th the movie Sarah’s Key will be shown.  I want to encourage everyone to attend the annual sisterhood Friday night service on February 24th. The Sisterhood does so much for this congregation and this is a way for us to express our appreciation for all they do.
          Jim Gold

President's Message - January 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Members of CBI,

The new secular year provides us as Jews a second chance (remember the high holidays?) to look back and give thanks for all the things we have to be grateful for as well as to consider how we might make our lives and the lives of others better.  On a personal level we are all thankful for the blessings of family, friends and all the very positive relations we have with others.

Looking back we have had a great year so far at Congregation Beth Israel. We started with the high holidays in which we successfully conducted services in both the main sanctuary and the social hall that has allowed Congregation Beth Israel to continue to serve the diverse religious needs of our congregation and community and meet the intentions of the successful merger with Beth Israel Synagogue that took place over 6 years ago.  

Our adult education programs including the Saturday Torah Study and 92nd Street Y continue to be provocative and engaging for congregation members truly interested in hearing about and discussing issues related to Torah, modern Israel and the arts and letters in general. Everyone who attended the recent 92nd Street Y featuring Supreme Court Judge Stephen Breyer left more knowledgeable about how the Supreme Court works and so very proud of the important role his Jewish background must have in shaping his knowledge, skills and deep thinking about the most important issues of the day.

Our once a month Shabbat family service and dinner has been extremely well attended and an evening enjoyed by congregants young and old. The Rabbi’s talk with the young people is always interesting and keeps the kids’ attention. However, if you listen carefully, the lessons apply to all of us.

Our sisterhood worked very hard in putting together the annual Food Fest that was not only very successful monetarily but brought diverse members of the congregation together to work as a team-- Young and old, new members and lifelong members all joined together to make this event an outstanding showcase for the community.

As we enter the new secular year, Congregation Beth Israel will be offering several  events we hope will engage much of the congregation. First, is a free concert by Soul Aviv on January 14, 2012. This is a quartet from California that specializes in Spiritual Jewish music that is a unique blend of Folk, Motown, Memphis Soul and world music. This promises to be a fun and entertaining evening for the entire congregation.

The second event will be held on April 1, 2012 and will feature Rabbi Bob Alper, who will provide us an evening of Jewish humor that can also be enjoyed by the entire congregation. His show will be preceded by a brief (15 minute) Special Congregational Meeting to vote on two important amendments to the Congregation By-laws. More details will follow. However, I urge you to mark your calendars now for this important night.

Finally, since the tradition of the new year is to make resolutions let me suggest a list for you to consider:

I resolve to sponsor an Oneg Shabbat in honor or memory of someone dear to me.
I resolve to join one of the Temple committees.
I resolve to attend Friday night or Saturday morning services once a month or more.
I resolve to attend the Soul Aviv Concert.
I resolve to attend a 92nd Street Y event.
I resolve to attend the hilarious evening with Rabbi Robert Alper and participate in the Special Congregation Meeting.

By adopting one or more of these resolutions I believe you will be enhancing your own lives and contributing to building Congregation Beth Israel as a family of families.

I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year.
         Jim Gold

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