President’s Post – May 2017

Who We Are

Marc Kaiser, President

Walk through our doors and feel our warmth. Be yourself and be embraced by people who are caring, nurturing and supportive. Learn with us. Pray with us. Sing with us. Play with us. Eat with us. Laugh and cry with us. Pursue justice with us. Join us in challenging and inspiring one another to seek answers together. Come home to Temple Beth El where new friends are waiting to welcome you.

The words above are loaded with meaning and intention. They’re an important statement of purpose that the Temple’s Board of Directors developed recently. We feel that it uniquely describes who we are as a community and the qualities that make us different than other Jewish institutions.

As part of the Board’s process, we examined our present mission and vision to see if they were still relevant, and compared them to other synagogues’ statements of purpose. Here are our present statements to refresh your memory:

Vision: Temple Beth El – A community that embraces Jewish life Mission: Temple Beth El serves the greater South Bay by providing strong Jewish leadership; diverse educational, musical and cultural programming; and engaging worship services, all in awarm, welcoming and vibrant social community. A congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, we encourage spiritual fulfillment, interfaith inclusion and social action.

While we agreed that these statements are accurate, we saw that when compared with other synagogues, they didn’t show how we are different. Nor did they provide the compelling emotional appeal for potential new members that we felt our synagogue deserves. Thanks to the poetry of Rabbi Briskin and editing by some Board members and congregants, we developed the opening statement as a replacement.

So what does this mean for us going forward? First, we plan to replace the statements on our website and all other materials and media that describe our vision/mission. Second, we’re working on a cover letter that accompanies our recruiting materials for prospective members that expands on the statement by providing examples and details. Third, and most important, we ensure that everything we do as a synagogue and community is aligned with the principles and intentions underlying the words.

How? We bring the words to life through our programs, our policies, our priorities, our leadership processes, and our behaviors toward each other. And by continuing to answer the question affirmatively, “Is this the type of sacred community that I want to be part of?”

Please join us on May 31 for the Annual Congregational Meeting.