Open Tent – December 2021

Connecting to TBE Members and to the Community

Doris Jacobson

During the last two years, our Open Tent committee meetings were a safe space for dialogue, visioning, creativity with the goal of enhancing communication within the San Pedro, South Bay, and the Long Beach communities, while also strengthening relationships among TBE members.

With much appreciation to the following who played an important role in our Open Tent planning: George Mayer, Open Tent Committee Chair; Rabbi Cassi Kail, Cantor Ilan Davidson, TBE Co- Presidents Linda Rubin and Marla Shwarts, Susan Brooks, Elliott Brunner, Gail Burch, Christa Greenfader, Linda Herman, Sharyl Holtzman, Peter Herwitt, Andrea Lawrence, Maura Lowenstein, Linda Rubin, Gale Swartz.

As we prepare to welcome 2022 and Temple Beth El’s Centennial year, we’d like to reflect on how the programs that began through Open Tent have become part of the fabric of TBE life.

Neighborhood Connections – A very special thank you to all of our Neighborhood Connectors who maintain a relationship with their neighbors. Thank you also to everyone who helped to deliver our holiday gift bags. And with much appreciation to Andrea Lawrence and Linda Herman who generously sponsored the Hanukkah gift bags which you recently received.

In addition to delivering holiday gift bags, our connectors get to know their neighbors, to celebrate with them and to help when needed. We hope to continue with future neighborhood programs and when we are able, to meet together at TBE.

Under the guidance of Linda Herman, VP of Membership Engagement, Neighborhood Connections will become a subcommittee within the Membership Engagement committee.

MENsch Club – We hope that you enjoyed our evening of Aloha Latkes which was presented by Sisterhood and MENsch Club. A fun evening was had by all with delicious latkes, creative drinks and some Hawaiian tunes! MENsch Club looks forward to additional programs with Sisterhood.

Service to TBE is an important pillar of the MENsch Club. In addition to having the honor of presenting traveling candlesticks to our B’nai Mitzvah recipients, MENsch Club hopes to increase its volunteerism once we are able to meet in person again.

The MENsch Club will offer an experiential event quarterly along with affinity groups. Among these programs will be a “career sharing” evening with Hillel students at Cal State Long Beach and also mentoring with students from the Boys and Girls Clubs.

In addition, MENsch Club is joining with the URJ’s Men of Reform Judaism and will bring these programs to our community.

Thanks to the leadership of Jaime Lowenstein, our MENsch Club chair, and his hard-working and very hands-on committee of Marvin Belzer, Bill Brooks, Cantor Ilan Davidson, Barry Gross, Peter Herwitt, Andy Kauffman, George Mayer, Eliot Swartz, and Bunky Victor, we are proud of the growth of our MENsch Club and look forward to growing the membership and involvement within our community in the coming year.

Outreach – The elements of Outreach and Membership Engagement overlap in many ways. Outreach Vice President, Andrea Lawrence, along with Linda Herman, will be following up on prospects and those who inquire about Temple Beth El. We recognize how valuable this follow up might be when people are considering involvement in TBE. It is also important for us to know how people have heard about TBE – whether from our website, from postcards we sent to new residents, from our “holidays in the aisles” brochures, from friends who are members, and more – so that we can continue to prioritize our marketing and outreach in those areas. These avenues of reaching out to the broader community, which were creatively developed by last year’s Outreach VP, Gail Burch, will be expanded in 2022 along with establishing relationships with realtors so that they can share our programs with new residents of our community.

PJ Library – Over the last 2 years, TBE has created a strong relationship with PJ Library. Cantor’s Storytime and our Half Pint Havurah events are in partnership with PJ Library. We look forward to this relationship growing and to being able to identify younger families within the South Bay community through PJ’s new JBabies program which brings expectant parents and parents of newborns together.

PJ Library is an enriching experience and we encourage all of our children through 8 years old to sign up to receive their free books. Through PJ Library, we hope to continue to share TBE’s many programs with families who, although they are not yet affiliated, might be seeking Jewish experiences.

To sign up your child or grandchild, go to the PJLibrary LA section and children ages 9-12 can sign up for the next chapter of PJ Library at

Communications – Our Marketing and Communication endeavors, guided so skillfully by Sharyl Holtzman, will continue to enable us to share our programming with the community. Our website continues to be our window to the community thanks to the hard work and commitment of Elliott Brunner, our webmaster. Our TBE Welcome Home video, which also can be viewed on our website’s homepage, enables people to experience the warmth and caring of our TBE family.

As we enter 2022, we may still be greeting each other on Zoom or at a social distance; however, we continue to have the opportunity to significantly strengthen relationships within our community and within the South Bay. We hope that through the efforts of Open Tent these last 2 years, we have embraced new programming that has added value to our membership and that these endeavors will be enhanced as TBE moves into its next century and continues to go from strength to strength.