This message contains many of the ideas I expressed when I spoke at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and I think it is important to say these same things again because to me they are the heart of why we have a synagogue in Oneonta, NY. During the year we engaged in a planning process designed to look at what we want to have available at Temple Beth El five years into the future. More than 40% of this congregation took time to answered written surveys. Many more participated in focus groups to discuss the results of the survey and share their personal ideas. There were so many ideas we could not possibly implement them all so committees met to narrow down the many suggestions to a manageable three or four to focus on for the next two years. The ones that were deemed the most important were FINANCES, balancing our budget and building our reserve funds, MEMBERSHIP, getting new members and increasing the number of people who participate actively. Simply having a Jewish COMMUNITY was what most people valued at the focus groups and on the questionnaire. The last and perhaps most important area of focus is the SUNDAY SCHOOL. We recognize how important it is to pass our traditions on to our children. Sunday School is a vital part of our life here. We currently have 18 students attending Sunday School.
In order to grow our membership and improve our financial situation we need to focus on the whole community. Let’s experience the bonds of community and strengthen our bonds across generations. Community was the highest value expressed in the planning process. This to me is the heart of Temple Beth El. Our religion is our core, but we are more than that. We are a place of gathering. We can gather for religious services, for education or learning, or for social reasons.
The calendar in this month’s Shofar offers many ways to get together: services, Men’s and Women’s clubs, and movie night. There are other activities and services that happen only occasionally.
To me our Temple Beth El community is like a web. Each of us has strands connecting us to others. If we increase our strands connecting us to more people our web grows larger and grows stronger. Our next religious services will be the weekend of November 1 and 2. Friday night services at 7:30 will be followed by a special Oneg celebrating Barbara Roberts. I hope you will join us for that. We now offer a Torah service on Saturday mornings and we always need a minyan for that. Come be with us for something this month.
Again, I hope you always feel welcome at Temple Beth El. I encourage you to reconnect with friends and meet new friends too. My wish is to see you often this month.