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 my experience.

My experience has been that nearly all my interactions are with kind and compassionate congregants who only want the best for our temple.  My experience has been with trustees who are engaged and when we have tough decisions before us they make valuable contributions.  My experience has been that executive committee members do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to deal with all kinds of complex issues.  I have had the pleasure of collaborating with our dedicated staff, executive director and rabbi.  I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many volunteers.

We have faced some challenges during my tenure as president.  We’ve had to navigate some serious issues, including a financial deficit and the need to improve security.  Sometimes there were heated debates and there were often differing opinions.  But in every situation, my respect, admiration and love for the people I got to work with only grew.  And, I had the added benefit of getting to work closely with the Rabbi.  This has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

As I wrap up my time in this leadership role, and also wrap up my time at CBHT, I can’t help but reflect on the many wonderful moments that have shaped my and my family’s lives here.  But it is truly the people I’ve come to know and the friends I have made, whom I will miss.  I continue to be amazed by the efforts of so many to make this a special place.

I recently had the chance to dip my toe into temple life at a synagogue in Nashville.  Someone there asked if I was ‘synagogue shopping’, and I guess the answer is “yes.”  The transition for me won’t be easy, as I believe our temple has set the bar incredibly high.  But I will know when I’ve found my new temple home because it will be filled with kind and generous people who work hard to make their faith community thrive.  I am so grateful to have learned the value of that here at CBHT.

All My Best,

Karen

 

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, they have typically already served four years (two as second vice president and two as first vice president) on the executive committee, and usually more years on the board.  After a two-year term as president, the immediate past-president stays engaged, attending executive committee meetings for another two years.  Phew…that’s eight years!  Our committee operates as a very collaborative group, so everyone is engaged in working out the challenges that face our temple.  We gain knowledge, experience and institutional memory along the way, making us well prepared to lead the board of trustees.  Because of this experience, I think that most presidents will agree that they were able to hit the ground running when it was their turn in the leadership position.

The ‘deep bench’ concept runs deeper than the executive committee, though.  Our trustees bring so many talents to the table and, because they’re willing to share those talents, we all greatly benefit.  In the middle of February, we held a special meeting of the board of trustees at which we discussed the sale of the property on Washington Road.  The up-front work by Tikkun Gottschalk and Larry Weiss to consider the financial and legal issues and to prepare that parcel of land for sale was considerable, and the expertise that they, along with Gaia Goldman and Shannon Tuch, contributed to the discussion was incredibly valuable.  Whenever we’ve had issues to address, someone with expertise steps up or someone takes it upon themselves to develop their understanding and become a ‘content expert’.  I’m thinking about Eric Naimark and Raymond Capelouto immersing themselves in temple safety, and Steve Shulruff and Chuck Rosenblum digging deeper to understand and make recommendations around our financial planning.  I also remember the tremendous amount of work that Nelson Sobel and Bob Davis put in to help us develop a strategic plan a few years ago.

Our bench of talented players doesn’t even stop there.  Everyone around the table at the special board meeting engaged in meaningful discussion that will lead to a really positive outcome.  I’ve seen it over and over, this group of trustees earnestly engaging in meaningful discussion, with humor, good will, and with their egos checked at the door.  We have dealt with difficult issues and we don’t always agree, but we never doubt the intentions of our fellow board members.  This temple really is very fortunate to have a dedicated group of leaders.

By the time this is published, everyone will have undoubtedly heard that James McMahon is stepping down as our choir director as he and Lauren are moving to Raleigh.  We can’t quite imagine our Sacred Music Team (SMT) without James; we will all feel the loss.  But, here comes Sarah Kim Wilde, who has been ‘warming up’ (to continue the ‘deep bench’ theme!) for a while now, to step in to the choir director role.  How great is that?!  It’s possible not only due to Rabbi creating and nurturing our incredible SMT, but also Sarah Kim’s commitment to the success of our music program.  Similarly, while we are saddened to have Toby Koritsky, our Education Director, leave, I am confident in the talent and dedication of our teachers, who will ensure that our school and our children continue to thrive.

This summer, when my term is over, I won’t just be leaving my role as president, I will also be leaving CBHT and Asheville, as Ed has accepted a new opportunity in Nashville.  It will be really hard to leave my congregational family, plus I’m kind of bummed that I won’t be able to enjoy the immediate past president role!  But, the ‘deep bench’ of both lay leaders and professional staff at CBHT, along with our MVP, Rabbi Meiri, will continue to ensure that this temple remains a very special community in which to engage with each other and worship.

My Best,

Karen

Karen Hyman, President

 

President’s Message



I get it. When you walk in our doors to attend services, or participate in programs or lifecycle events, or when you bring your kids to religious school, or interact with our Rabbi or staff, it feels like things at CBHT are in great shape. You experience that vibrant, healthy, growing community we’re all lucky to enjoy.

It doesn’t look or feel like we’re having financial struggles. That may be why so many members did not respond last fall when I asked everyone who was able to consider increasing their financial commitment in the middle of our fiscal year. While some people gave what they could and others explained why their circumstance didn’t allow them to give more, we didn’t hear from about two thirds of our members. Since then, the board has been carefully monitoring our monthly revenue and expenses. We have made some progress, but revenue from Fair Share Commitments continues to fall short of our budgetary needs. Here are some more details:

  • Our salary expenses are in line with congregations of similar size. Compensation for our Executive Director and Education Director are at the low end of the range and our Rabbi’s salary is at about the median according to surveys conducted by Jewish professional organizations. (Our salary expenses increased because we added a full time executive director and education director to meet the needs of our growing congregation and school.)
  • Our Executive Director’s careful analysis of every expense has resulted in savings of about $15,000. The majority of this savings is due to a temporary reduction in our URJ dues, which he was able to secure due to our current financial situation. This will have to be negotiated with URJ each year.
  • Increased giving, as a result of the fall letter and board outreach, added $20,000 in additional revenue.
  • Our average commitment has increased some (from $1,190 last year to $1,250 this year) but it is still far short of the average amount we need per family to cover our expenses (which is more in the range of $1,840 to $2,000).

This structural imbalance – where expenses are greater than revenue — is not sustainable. The Board of Directors has therefore determined that, in order to bring revenues back in line with expenses this fiscal year, and in accordance with our bylaws, it is necessary to charge an assessment to all members.

The executive committee and an ad hoc dues structure committee of the board have also been working diligently to create a dues schedule based on income ranges that will better reflect the commitment we need from our members in the next fiscal year.

We highly value every member’s decision to make Congregation Beth HaTephila their spiritual home. As a community, we rely on one another to make it the vibrant, diverse and welcoming place we all love. We do not want financial hardship to get in the way of temple membership and rely on the generosity of those who can to commit more.

While many temples have special assessments and more precise dues schedules, this is a significant change for our congregation. We have therefore scheduled a Town Hall Meeting to explain the details of these changes, review efforts to reduce expenses, and to answer your questions. I hope you’ll join us in the Dave Family Social Hall on Monday, April 16th at 7 PM to participate in this important meeting.

In the meantime, I am always interested in your thoughts and questions. Please feel free to reach out to talk about this or anything else about temple.

My best,
Karen