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Congregation Beth HaTephila

An Engaging, Inclusive, Reform Congregation in the Blue Ridge Mountains

President's Message - December 2021

As most of you know, our temple is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest Jewish movement in North America.  What you might not know is exactly what the URJ does.  Until I became involved in temple leadership, I wasn’t all that clear either.  I knew that CBHT pays membership dues to belong and I did attend two recent URJ biennials – one in Boston and one in Chicago – but realize now as president that the URJ has resources to address just about any challenge a congregation might face.  Everything from board retreat outlines to security policy templates to the brit of attendance CBHT implemented in the early days of the pandemic.  If it’s ever come up, someone at the URJ has written about it.  

More recently, the CBHT board had an in-depth discussion about its role as a governing body.  We used a recent URJ article called What Should Be the Role of Executive Committee? to move to a consent agenda format as a more productive way to run our meetings.  A consent agenda provides board members with reports from committees ahead of the meeting, which are then voted on as a single item rather than discussed one by one.  Doing so shortens the time the board spends managing mundane temple matters and frees us up to engage in the three key activities the article suggests: generative thinking, strategic action, and fiduciary oversight.  

We will be experimenting with this new format for our board meetings, but I for one am excited to have more time to focus on long-range planning and creative ways in which we can strengthen our community.  

At the time of this writing, infection numbers are still too high for us to safely resume all aspects of temple life and in particular, to share food in the building.  As for many of you, foregoing onegs, brunches, bagels, and festive meals in Dave Hall has been hard for me.  The enjoyment we get from breaking bread with each other was evidenced by the seventy plus members who came out for the food truck dinner in our parking lot prior to family services in early November.  The event was such a highlight!  Watching our youngest run around while parents and grandparents sat and chatted was deeply satisfying.  Incidentally, we’ll be in the parking lot yet again in a few days for our Hanukkah celebration, sharing latke and sufganiyot, and most importantly, enjoying each other’s company.  

Whether it’s around food or any other aspect of temple life, I encourage you to get involved.  We are actively recruiting members for our committees and could use your skills.  Whether your interests lie in fundraising, engagement, finance, security, Tikkun Olam, or caring for our community, please reach out to me or one of our board members.  It will be our pleasure to help you find your home within our temple home. 

Gaia Goldman,
CBHT President

Fri, December 8 2023 25 Kislev 5784