President’s Post – January 2020

Opening Our Tent

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

How do we go from being two strangers passing on the sidewalk to two neighbors becoming friends and part of a larger community? Moyaert examines the significance of the hospitality shown by Abraham at Mamre in Genesis 18:1-33. “Abraham was not in the best physical condition and it was the peak summer yet he chose the path of hospitality by taking care of three strangers that he would probably never see again. Abraham offers his hospitality as God would have wanted and hosted the strangers in his home because he was simply building a relationship with another of God’s creation.” It is in this example of hospitality towards others—of embracing and welcoming the differences of someone whom we may or may not have met before—that we are able to transform relationships into a community. It is in this human interconnectedness that Moyaert states that we find hope. In order to find commonalities with others, we must first let go of what is familiar to ourselves and embrace what is not-yet-familiar. We must have hope that in our new relationships, we can build an even better community.

There is some very exciting news to share! In last month’s Kol Beit El, we spoke of the beginning of a project to enhance our position in the community and increase membership. We have begun! There have been two organizing meetings in December lead by Chair George Mayer to develop the vision, strategies, and goals. Many of our committees and our congregants will have opportunities to be part of this sacred work in the near future. The group appropriately named the initiative, ‘The Open Tent Project’.

We would like to emphasize that this effort is in addition to the ongoing excellent work in our Member Outreach and Member Engagement Committees. Collaboration and cooperation opportunities are many and we’re sure there are even more synergies to be identified as work progresses.

It is our pleasure to announce that we have hired a part-time Director of Outreach and Inclusion for the next two years. Her name is Doris Jacobson and she has been a leader in Southern California Jewish Community in the areas of Outreach and Community Organization, most recently with the Orange County Jewish Federation and Family Services (JFFS). She will be beginning in February. If you happen to see a new, smiling, and effervescent person wandering the halls of TBE, please introduce yourself. We will be working on putting together our official ‘Warm TBE Welcome’ and will provide details very soon!

We have been anticipating the start of this work for more than six years and the time is here. Please lend your efforts to this great project and help ensure that TBE continues to flourish for our next 100 years!