The bigger picture. That’s what I saw in a room with 5000 or so Reform Jews, all in Chicago convening at the URJ Biennial. If you have ever been to a large gathering of Jews anywhere—at the western wall, Biennial, or large synagogue event—you’ve probably felt what I was feeling, the power of so many Jews in one place. That would be enough, dayenu, without anything more. But there was more, much more, in the form of individual stories of challenges and successes in synagogues all over North America. I certainly learned from others' stories, and will bring back many ideas to share with our membership and our board. I also saw how we as a congregation are in this together with all of our other sibling congregations, large and small. Just like we are together in our own synagogue community, our synagogue is itself in a community of synagogues that support each other.
The challenge is to be inspired to adapt others’ examples to our own Jewish community, to retain our unique and wonderful Asheville Jewish experience while exploring new ideas. So, I ask you to be open to new experiences at our temple, and to be patient if we try something that may not work quite right at first. Be assured, I have nothing drastic in mind. But, one of the theories of congregational growth and adaptation at the URJ Biennial was to plan to be unsuccessful in new endeavors, to try new things as experiments only. You may have heard before that more can be learned from failure than from success. This does not mean that we try to fail, only that the experience of the experiment is the goal, not the success that might be measured at the end.
This all may seem a bit vague at this point. The idea, though, is to continue to do all the things we already do—study Torah, care for our community members, and so on—in new and re-imagined ways that might inspire ourselves and those around us. Then, once we try a new class, fundraiser, or other event, we’ll get to decide whether we liked it. At worst, it will remind us of the reasons why we liked the original way we did things. (For example, you may remember that we tried a digital-only Menorah, then went back to mailing it out because mailing turned out to be better, and worth the extra cost.)
One of the most important things I learned at the URJ Biennial is that much of what we do at our temple is just right. But we’re going to be trying a few new things here and there, and I hope these experiments will inspire us to get even more “just right.”
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Previous messages from the President
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 … Continue reading Presidents Message- November 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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