Building a Dynamic Institution
Nov 17th 2014

Thank you to so many of you who spoke to me over the High Holidays wishing me well and encouraging many of our initiatives. Beth Tzedec continues to be at the forefront of Conservative Judaism.

On October 6, we hosted The Future of Jewish Life in the Diaspora with Chancellor Arnold Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary in dialogue with writer and film-maker David Bezmozgis and moderated by Rabbi Yael Splansky. That morning, David Bezmozgis’ novel, The Betrayers, was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Over 300 people attended this stimulating and thought-provoking event. We are grateful to our member, Lorna Kahn, for her generous sponsorship of the evening in memory of her late beloved husband, Asher Kahnz”l.

On October 20, Professor Marc Epstein, who holds the Shoshana Shier Visiting Distinguished Professorship in the Art Department at the University of Toronto,

delivered this year’s Shoshana Shier Memorial Lecture with the participation of the Beth Tzedec Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum. His subject was Sermons in Wood: The Lost Synagogues of Poland. With his in-depth halakhic and art history analysis, he shared with us his insights into the hidden symbols and secrets of the now destroyed, painted wooden synagogues of Poland. It was a fascinating evening. We are grateful to the Shier family for its ongoing support of this annual lectureship.

Beth Tzedec is once again participating in the Shalom Hartman Institute Engaging Israel Seminar. The iEngage Project is designed for congregational leaders and clergy, and is committed to addressing core questions pertaining to the necessity and significance of the Jewish national enterprise; how a Jewish State should exercise power; why a Jew who lives outside of Israel should care about Israel; and what the State of Israel can offer the world. Ten of our members are enrolled in this year’s program which will explore relevant, contemporary approaches to the meaning and significance of the modern State of Israel for Jews in seven monthly seminars. I look forward to the inaugural session where Yossi Klein Halevi will be teaching. His topic will be Diaspora and Israel: Where Should the Relationship Be Headed? I hope to report further to you at the end of the program.

On December 7, I shall be attending the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s General Assembly of Kehillot. The responsibilities of the General Assembly include the election of USCJ’s officers and directors, the approval of dues rates and assessments, consideration of resolutions on matters of interest to the General Assembly of Kehillot and discussions about issues of global Jewish concern. The USCJ Nomination Committee has nominated our members, Harold J. Wolfe and Norman Kahn, to become Directors as Beth Tzedec assumes a leadership role in USCJ.

On December 14, Beth Tzedec is hosting USCJ’s program, Name Tags are Not Enough: Turning Relationships Into Community. The program will explore how relational Judaism can become part of our kehillah’s culture. The goal is to better connect with individuals as they travel along on their personal journeys with Judaism.

It is indeed a privilege to lead our dynamic institution.