Engaging Our Membership Online: A Message from the President
Jun 1st 2020

When I went to sleep on March 12, I didn't expect to wake up in a world in which my husband and I would not be able to attend the next day’s minyan, or that he would not be able to say Kaddish together with other mourners and friends in shul. Just a few weeks ago, our world changed and we have been forced to find new ways to connect, to engage and to provide meaningful Jewish experiences for our community.
Overnight, we transformed our programs and services from in-person to online. We also launched a campaign of caring, calling and connecting with our community, including our elders, our young families, those most vulnerable and those who are isolated and alone. With Pesah in our sights, we provided food vouchers to those in need, assisted with food pick-up and delivery, connected members with other community agencies and helped those who had no seder to attend to connect online so that no one would be left out. 
Today, we conduct daily minyanim online, host speakers and stream classes and programs for all of our members, including seniors, young families and children. Just last week, we celebrated Shavuot with hundreds of members of our community tuning in to daven on the Beth Tzedec website.
Our staff, along with over 90 volunteers, has made over 3000 phone calls from their homes to check in on our members. We've also committed to providing personal guidance and support for those struggling to cope during this unbelievable time, from both our spiritual leaders and professionals in our community.
Through all of this, we've seen huge increases in member engagement and connection—and our digital transformation is just beginning.
At the same time, every one of us is reeling from the consequences of the current pandemic. Many are doing everything possible just to stay afloat as we face new personal and financial challenges. Many members of our community have lost their jobs, their good health and, in the worst cases, their lives. My own family has been impacted, as have the families of so many members of our kehillah, so I understand the pain and anxiety that they are feeling.
That's why I want to make sure Beth Tzedec, our home, is still open and available for those who need it most.
With the closure of our building, we experienced a dramatic loss in revenue, including:

  • $75,000 from room rentals and events;
  • an estimated $100,000 from catering; and
  • $21,000 in anticipated donations and member contributions.
We have had to make some difficult decisions, such as reducing staff, cancelling programs and deferring all non-essential repairs. As we look to the future, we are working to reduce expenses in every area of our operation. With only 52% of our revenue generated by member contributions, bridging this gap presents an even greater challenge in the days ahead.
In the coming weeks you will receive continued updates on how we will be delivering services to you, including a radically different High Holy Day experience. These are unprecedented times for our community and we are pulling together the human and financial resources to meet the challenges. If you are not signed up for our email newsletter, I strongly encourage you to do so.
You will also receive your member engagement package, including the request for annual member contributions. As we are doing ourselves, your leadership is asking you, where possible, to sustain your membership at your current level. We want you to know that we are available to confidentially discuss your situation. We are committed to ensuring that you will continue to be a part of this kehillah kedoshah, this sacred community.
When you receive your member engagement statement, if you are unable to meet your current contribution level, do not hesitate to reach out to Klara Romm in Member Engagement or Randy Spiegel, our Executive Director. Our commitment to you is that no member will ever be turned away due to an inability to make a contribution.
And while we know there are many who will have difficulty this year, we also know that within our Beth Tzedec family, there will be those who are able to meet their current contribution level. We ask those who can to consider making a special contribution to our Membership Engagement Fund, which will go towards helping those who may be facing greater fiscal challenges. Your special gift will help bridge the financial gap, covering membership for a fellow congregant and allowing us to continue to serve our entire community.
I thank you in advance and look forward to a time when we will once again be able to wish each other a Shabbat Shalom, face-to-face.
Debbie Rothstein, President