As some of you may know, my parents have been members of Beth David harkening back to the days of Beth Am. My wife – Lisa – has been active as President of Sisterhood, and my children – Sara and Benjamin – represent the third generation of our family to be active at Beth David. So it is an honour to serve as your President.
In addition to our very fine Clergy and professional team, our congregation is fortunate to have a group of highly dedicated lay leaders and volunteers to assist in making our community a great place to participate, learn and grow as Conservative Jews – not to mention the opportunity to get to know some wonderful people!
To the rest, I’d like to extend an invitation to join this exceptional group of volunteers. At times it is not easy, but it is certainly a rewarding experience. Whatever your passion may be, there is likely an opportunity to assist in some capacity, no matter how big or small. Whether it is helping to stuff envelopes in the office, taking a leadership role in running a major event, or helping to govern the shul through involvement on a committee, there is literally something for everyone.
Beth David is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year – a significant milestone in our history. A committed group of volunteers planed an exciting gala event this past November, which provided for a fantastic celebration and the launch pad for raising some new and much needed capital funds to continue to improve our facilities.
Beth David is a great community, but we are not without our challenges. Like many Conservative synagogues throughout North America, we have seen a decline in membership. To remain viable for the next 60 years, we need to start thinking about how to do things differently. The Board of Directors has done much to lay the groundwork to tackle these issues. For example:
- Last year, we introduced a new per-capita fee category that allows our members to opt-in to pay a more fulsome share of the true cost of running the shul.
- This year we are launching a new annual giving program, Leadership Circle, to reconize those families who make significant contributions above and beyond their basic dues.
- New fundraising activities have been launched, including a highly successful mishloach manot program at Purim, and more new ideas will be launched in the future.
- We recently received our first major endowment and the groundwork is being put in place to accept new endowments and to arrange for planned giving such as bequests and life insurance.
- A variety of new programs have been introduced with the goal of appealing to different demographics within the community.
- We will continue to explore the possibility of joining forces with other congregations with similar ideological perspectives and challenges.
Over the coming months and years, you will see the continued evolution of these ideas. We know that change is not easy, but it is necessary if we are to stay relevant and viable. We need to enhance what we do well, and augment this with fresh new ideas. A key focus for my term as President will be to increase our attention on new membership development while retaining our wonderful current members. In particular, we need to find ways to convince busy young families with a multitude of priorities to become engaged. Attracting new families must become part of our culture.
I welcome your input as we embark upon this journey together. Please reach out to me if you would like to contribute to making Beth David an even better place to participate, learn and grow.