Open Tent – May 2021

Neighborhood Connections

Doris Jacobson

A very special thank you to our Open Tent committee, inspired and led by committee chair, George Mayer, for all that they have accomplished during this year of COVID. It had always been the goal of Open Tent to be visible in the community, engaging our temple community while reaching out to the broader South Bay community as well. But COVID made that impossible. And so, we took advantage of all that “zoom” has to offer and revised our plans! Our committee’s vision and creativity made that possible. Working with the Vice Presidents of Outreach and Engagement, Linda Herman and Gail Burch, Open Tent achieved many of our goals and will continue to prioritize these areas and others throughout the rest of the year.

We hope that while you were shopping for Passover, you saw our Passover brochures in many of the grocery stores. “Passover in the Aisles” – the vision of Gail Burch – enabled us to share our Passover programming with the larger community. A special thank to Rabbi Cassi for the creation of the beautiful brochure. We will again have information in the stores for Rosh Hashanah, sharing the richness of TBE’s holiday experiences with the community and welcoming people to “walk through our doors.”

Our 24 very committed Neighborhood Connectors have been hard at work reaching out to their neighbors and letting them know that even though we have not been seeing each other in person, we are still a strong and connected community that values our meaningful relationships. Our Neighborhood Connectors have brought their neighbors together for holiday break out groups, they have shopped for neighbors when needed, they have made new friendships and strengthened existing relationships and they have been there whenever needed during this long year.

Being part of the PJ Library program allows for the children and grandchildren of our congregants to receive a beautifully illustrated and written Jewish book once a month. Cantor Ilan’s Friday Storytime program is also in partnership with PJ Library. If you would like information about enrolling a child in this program, please email

The MENsch Club is building a community of Jewish men through its programming – and of course women are welcome also! On May 20th, the MENsch Club goes to the movies with the zoom showing of “Above and Beyond”, which is the story of a group of Jewish American war pilots who fly for Israel during its War of Independence. The MENsch Club has chosen to give back to TBE with the presentation of traveling candlesticks to all B’nai Mitzvah participants. They have also created a mentoring and career pathing program to assist congregants with their career direction.

Under the guidance and knowledge of Susan Brooks, Social Action chairperson, a working group has been meeting to do a community assessment as it relates to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Upon completion of the assessment review, the Open Tent committee will have a role in the implementation of the DEI program at TBE. As TBE continues with its outstanding programs, and as Open Tent continues its outreach within our community, we are very grateful for the commitment of Sharyl Holtzman, our chair of Marketing and Communications. Not only does Sharyl publicize all of the temple’s events, but she is truly our partner within the Open Tent program, guiding us, directing us and sharing her community resources and knowledge.

“Welcome Home!” is the theme of our soon to be released video depicting the many aspects of life at Temple Beth El. The video will be rolled out very soon and will be on our website. A very special thanks to Bob Gold for his great direction in formulating the concept and the script and to Sharyl Holtzman, TBE’s Marketing and Communications chair, who so thoughtfully and creatively nurtured this project to fruition. We hope that you will enjoy this video and share it with your friends. It is a great way to share our story.

Through Open Tent, we will continue to engage and connect our neighbors and to embrace our diversity that is the fabric and future of Jewish life. We will continue to widen the tent and encourage participation of those who are often underserved in the Jewish community. And as a leader in the South Bay Jewish community, we will continue to embrace change as we look forward to our next century!