President’s Post – December 2019

Reaching Out

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

It is no accident that we, the Jewish people, call ourselves “Am Yisrael“—“the people of Israel”— rather than “Dat Yisrael,” or “the religion of Israel.” A sense of people-hood has long been the defining characteristic of the Jews. You have spoken, and we have listened to the many conversations and input, that in order to continue to thrive for our next 100 years, TBE needs to find new members. Temple Beth El has a long-standing policy that we do not ‘poach’ from other congregations in order to grow. So where are those unaffiliated Jews? We have data that shows the South Bay has many in our nearby neighborhoods. These people are diverse in age; families with young children, empty nesters, baby boomers and ‘wise voices’.

Are we, TBE, our own best-kept secret? In 2016, under the leadership of Eliot Swartz and our beloved consultant, Sandi Goldstein, a group to develop TBE’s strategic plan was formed. One of the many important outcomes of this work was identifying the need for a Temple Director of Outreach, a professional experienced in reaching out to the greater community and able to organize our own volunteers in a focused manner. It was recommended that this person be a part time Temple employee empowered to ‘get the word’ out about us, reach out to the community, and be responsible for the development and execution to grow our membership. This would not be a consultant to tell us what to do, but rather a part of this community actually doing the work for us and with us! When this was presented to the Board of Directors, all were in agreement to accept the recommendation, however, it would not be implemented until we had all of the money, in hand and in advance, to support at least a two-year program.

The new ‘Director of Outreach,’ or whatever title is finally agreed upon, would work very closely with our Membership Outreach Committee under the leadership of Elliott Brunner, along with Rabbi, Cantor, Carrie and Shoni to ensure an integrated, thoughtful and effective effort. In fact, this work has already begun over the last several months and is in the final planning stages in anticipation of a successful hire.

We are happy to announce our wonderful George Mayer, through the generosity of a few donors, has secured all of the required funding! The monies raised were earmarked for this specifically and are only to be used for this initiative. The next steps are to find this special person, develop a program proposal, hire the right candidate and get going! We hope to have an exciting announcement during the first two months of 2020.

There is much to do and we need lots of help, energy and enthusiasm to make this effort succeed. If you are willing to get involved and lend your skills and hands in a small or even a larger way to this initiative, please contact one of us or Elliott Brunner.