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Temple Beth El

Offering Conservative Jewish worship since 1935

83 Chestnut Street/POBox 383
Oneonta, NY 13820
Phone: (607) 432-5522

President’s Column — June 2018

Believe it or not, Temple Beth El is winding down its 83rd year. Given the size of our town, the even smaller size of the Jewish community, and the fact that so many Conservative synagogues in America have merged or closed, this is remarkable. The recent Congregational Survey asked about the strengths of Temple Beth El, and someone answered, “Just its existence.” Amen. We are here and we need to be. We are the only year-round, active shul within a 60-mile radius. In a town where we are a tiny minority, our synagogue is even more important. We are all aware of the threats to Jewish continuity and the survival of American synagogues, but Temple Beth El’s rural location presents a greater challenge. We are deep in the Diaspora (only 4% of US Jews live in rural areas), and have no one but ourselves to rely on. Those of us who belong to Temple Beth El are proud to support this institution. We are still here, and we have a lot to celebrate. For the past few years we have always had a minyan on Friday night. Our Men’s Club and Women’s Group are both lively and active. The Hebrew School is small, spirited, and continues to bring together Jewish children and their families. A Tot Shabbat service for children is beginning in the Fall. Our synagogue is respected and embraced by the community. We have a positive relationship with Rabbi Meir and Chabad, our neighbor and friend down the street.  Our social action programs are ongoing and expanding. Our adult education classes are lively and beloved, and attract new members. We are a welcoming synagogue. And most importantly, people feel warmth and friendship when they gather. Given all our strengths, Temple Beth El is a success story.

On Thursday, June 21, Temple Beth El members will gather for the annual congregational meeting at 7:00 pm. Please join us so you can learn more about our accomplishments of the past year and goals for the future. We will vote not only on new board members (see below for the slate of candidates; nominations from the floor can also be heard), but also on two proposed changes to our by-laws. 

  1. Several members of the congregation and Board have requested that proxy voting be allowed at the community meeting.  The benefit of proxy voting is that if a member cannot attend a meeting, he/she can give authority to someone else to vote so their voice can be heard. Disadvantages of proxy voting are that members will not hear discussion about issues which might change their positions and that we might not get a quorum at the meeting if not enough members attend in person.    (Note – a “proxy” may vote how he or she wishes and is not bound to vote the way the person giving the proxy tells him/her.)  The Board of Trustees will recommend the following amendment to Article VII, CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS:   “Every member entitled to vote at a meeting of members or to express consent or dissent without a meeting may authorize another person or persons to act for him or her by proxy. The Board of Trustees shall, from time-to-time, promulgate rules and procedures for proxy voting, consistent with the applicable provisions of law.” 

Some of the rules and procedures the Board is discussing are that a proxy must be a member of Temple Beth El, that no one can be a proxy for more than two other members, that the proxy be in writing and that it can be revoked at any time. The Board has not yet voted on these or any other specific rules or procedures.  

  1. The Board will also recommend amending Article VIII Section 1 of the By-laws to provide that “a past year’s president” be a member of the Board, rather than “the immediate past year’s president.”  This change is proposed because not all immediate past presidents are willing or able to serve.

The amendments must be approved by two-thirds of the members present at the meeting.

Your participation in this process is important.