President’s Monthly Message

Presidents Message- November 2019

The security of our temple has been a frequent topic of discussion in temple leadership for some time.  We want to be safe, and feel safe, so that we can experience our congregational home free of fear.  It has not been easy for the CBHT Board and Security Committee to make security plans for our temple.  I want to acknowledge the many hours of difficult work our security volunteers have been doing over the last months and years.  Much of this work is behind the scenes, and I hope you will join me in thanking them for their efforts.

There are many aspects that make any security plan we have challenging to create and to implement.  Like most other synagogues in North America, our parking lot and building were not designed to be hardened or to have strong barriers to access.  Such hardening of our building would also go against our mission to be a welcoming congregation.  The balancing of audacious hospitality on the one hand, with controlling access on the other hand, is not easy, especially when we so frequently have visitors who are new to us.  I believe that we are close to achieving the right balance.

We cannot help but constantly reexamine the effect our security measures have on how people feel at temple.  We are fortunate to be connected to national organizations, like the URJ, FBI, and local law enforcement, which provide us with expert advice on these issues.

Our laws and societal norms present challenges to any security plan we may have, and to how safe we feel at temple.  In the context of these laws and norms, the Board and Security Committee are carefully considering the risks and benefits of potential changes to our security policy.  We have implemented a variety of security measures, and any proposed change to any of these measures must be evaluated in the context of our overall policy.  Expect to hear more from the Board about this in the coming weeks and months.

We were all raised in a different world, where synagogue doors were unlocked and everyone was welcome with little or no scrutiny.  Security was a concern, but not a frequent topic of conversation in Board meetings.  One of our biggest challenges around security issues is to maintain our vigilance without fundamentally altering our spiritual practice.  I believe that we have been successful in doing this at our temple.  Our conversations about security will and must continue.

Tikkun Gottschalk,

CBHT President



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Previous messages from the President

President’s Message- October, 2019

Just about 26 years ago, I climbed the steps to the brass doors and entered the CBHT sanctuary for the first time.  You might not have recognized me then, with my long hair hanging in a bushy ponytail.  (I knew nothing about man-buns.)  I don’t recall who greeted me at the door, but I know … Continue reading President’s Message- October, 2019

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President’s Message – Sept. 2019

It may be summer, but a lot has been happening at CBHT in the office, in the “boardroom” and behind the scenes.  The office staff and Board have been busy keeping the wheels of the temple business well-greased.  We recently entered the new fiscal year in July; thank you to all of our members who … Continue reading President’s Message – Sept. 2019

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President’s Message – August 2019

Since being elected president of CBHT a few weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to reflect on why I serve on the board and what it means to me in the context of my connection to our temple community.  Let’s be honest: our board has occasionally had meetings that have gone on too long, … Continue reading President’s Message – August 2019

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President’s Message

Over the past two years, when I have spoken to people about my role as president of our temple, I would get that “Oh, I am so sorry” look.  They most always say something about how tedious it must be to deal with the complainers, the naysayers.  I can honestly say that has not been … Continue reading President’s Message

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President’s Message – May 2019

As I wrote to you back in March, at the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees authorized the sale of the property that CBHT owns on Washington Road, behind the playground.  Since then, we had measurements taken to assure that we had enough green space on temple property to meet city requirements, … Continue reading President’s Message – May 2019

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President’s Message

How fortunate we are to have such a ‘deep bench’ at CBHT.  We have a considerable number of very talented ‘players’ who can step up during a transition or help fill a knowledge gap when we’re sailing in uncharted territory.  Some of this is by design.  By the time someone moves into the president role, … Continue reading President’s Message

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President’s Message – February 2019

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jewish food lately. My daughter is planning her wedding and is designing the menu around ‘Jew-ish’ food — pastrami and rye, falafel in pita, black and white cookies, Israeli salads — a little of this and a little of that, mixing what we think of as culturally Jewish food … Continue reading President’s Message – February 2019

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President’s Message – January 2019

CBHT Heroes For a while now, we have been thinking about honoring congregants who’ve made important contributions to CBHT by instituting a ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award. It certainly makes sense, as there are many people who have given so much of their time and talent. In fact, it’s a huge challenge to think about … Continue reading President’s Message – January 2019

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Presidents Message – December 2018

On the Shabbat when the murders took place in the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh, the Torah portion was Vayera, from Genesis, recounting how Abraham welcomed perfect strangers into his tent. As Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), said in his initial statement after the shootings, it was so … Continue reading Presidents Message – December 2018

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Presidents Message – October 2018

Excerpted from President’s Erev Rosh HaShanah Speech I’d like to take a minute to tell you a little about my personal Jewish journey. I converted to Judaism in 2004, but my journey began in 2001, in the weeks right after 9/11.  My sister’s husband was killed that day, while he was working at the top … Continue reading Presidents Message – October 2018

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President’s Message

Our new Annual Commitment structure sets a base commitment amount as well as commitment levels for a range of income levels.  This new structure has raised an interesting question from some of our families.  They say that they just don’t ‘use’ the temple that much.  They may live far away, or they just don’t choose … Continue reading President’s Message

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