President’s Post – November-December 2018

The Challenge of Service

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

What does it mean to be a member of Temple Beth El’s Board of Directors (BOD)? A simple question which comes with a very complex answer. The primary purpose of the BOD is to manage the affairs of the congregation. This is a fiduciary responsibility which is defined as the legal requirement for one party (the BOD) to act in the best interests of the other (the congregation) both legally and ethically. There is an Executive Committee consisting of a President (or Co-Presidents presently), Immediate Past President acting as Parliamentarian, VP of Finance, VP Member Engagement, VP Member Outreach, and VP of Operations (or ‘Stuff’ as Rabbi Kohn recently quipped), with the remaining members being ‘at large’. Each board member is required to serve on another committee and encouraged to also be the chair.

Our sacred work at each of the monthly BOD meetings begins with a prayer fondly known as ‘The Siegelman Prayer’, written by our very own, Irv Siegelman. “Adonai, give us the strength to acquit our responsibilities as leaders of Your congregation with clarity of purpose, through civil discourse, in fairness and with sensitivity. We pledge ourselves to serve the families of Temple Beth El as caring individuals with collective good sense and decency. May it be Your will to have us succeed.” We then engage in study of the weekly Torah portion looking for meaning and guidance in those ancient words. While prayer and study set the framework for each meeting, there is much more to serving, you, the TBE family.

The many responsibilities of service extend much further than these basic governance tasks. Hours of meetings and work, acting on congregant input, being representatives of the congregation to the public, caring deeply for our members, approving contractual items, being greeters at services and being honored on the bimah, and so many times being the first one to raise a hand when something needs to be done and so much more.

As we communicated in a letter to the Congregation, the Social Justice Committee’s Safe Parking LA proposal, addressing one facet of invisible homelessness on our very streets in San Pedro has raised some controversy based almost entirely on misinformation. We are obligated as Jews to welcome the stranger and care for those less fortunate. The BOD is exploring ways to resolve these concerns as both good neighbors and citizens, guided by the principles of tikkun olam. There will be many more opportunities for communication on this and other topics, so please, let your voices be heard. Contact either one of us, or any of the members of the BOD with questions and comments, for together we are certainly more than the sum of our parts.