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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 — January 2019

Temple Beth El continues to move forward. We have core groups of members who participate in the facets of synagogue life they most enjoy (services, adult education, Israeli movies, Women’s and Men’s Club, etc.), our committee structure, the lifeblood of a religious institution, is being revitalized, our growth in membership outpaces attrition (enviable for any synagogue), and we remain a valued, contributing member of the greater Oneonta community. This is encouraging. And it is only occurring because members support the synagogue. We do, of course, need more income. With a small congregation, it is difficult to pay the bills. Our dues are reasonable in order to encourage and maintain membership, but we rarely break even in a fiscal year. Your donations to Temple Beth El (in memory or in honor of a loved one, to the building fund, Hebrew School, programs, etc.) are very helpful. But we also need you in the synagogue, in-person. Please find a way to participate.

On that note, a long-term planning committee will convene in January, led by an experienced professional who will help us create a 5 year plan for folk (members, outreach, and community connections), finances and facilities. The volunteer group will only meet in person a few times, and will conduct much of its work via phone and email.  We hope to submit the final plan to the membership in fall, 2019. If you are interested in helping to chart Beth El’s future, please contact me (

Don’t forget to show your support for the NACCP’s 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration being held at Temple Beth El on Sunday, January 20 at 2:00.  We are proud to once again host the Oneonta community in our beautiful sanctuary, especially for this event. As many of you know, Jewish supporters of Rev. King were very important to him and the Civil Rights movement at-large. This is an opportunity to continue to show our support as Americans and Jews for justice, equality, and peace. We will need a few volunteers to serve as ushers. Please let me know if you can arrive 30 minutes early to welcome guests.

On January 27, we will hold our annual vote on the Rabbi’s contract. Please keep in mind, the Board has no legal authority to make this decision. It must be decided by the members. A number of people have asked why we are doing this in the middle of winter. Synagogues plan this way in case the contract is not renewed (by either party). A winter vote allows time for a synagogue to find a new Rabbi, and a Rabbi to find a new synagogue. A few members have asked about absentee or proxy voting. At last year’s annual congregational meeting we reviewed the legal and procedural requirements for both, but the membership did not approve either. Again, these are not Board decisions. Please attend this meeting so your voice and vote will be counted. If we are snowed out on January 27, we will meet the following Sunday, February 3. If a cancellation is required, we will post an announcement on the front page of the Temple Beth El website.  Please attend.

Until then, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I wish you all a happy, healthy 2019.