Michael Hochschild, President
This, my second report for Bat Yam Matters, finds me somber, yet optimistic, both personally and insofar as the well-being of Temple Bat Yam of the Islands is concerned.
My last report was full of news of the appointment of our new Board of Trustees and the new faces taking charge of the committees and indeed the formation of new committees. I was also enthusing about the quality generally of our new leadership and my expectations of the direction that our Temple would be heading. All my expectations have been met, and much more!
From the above, readers will, with reason, be thinking to themselves, “Well, this must be a happy and satisfied president.” And they are right!
But now, because of things totally out of our control, I am a somber president. I, together with all of you, have a massive task ahead to steer the ship to a destination that we know is somewhere over the horizon, but we know not just how far. We know that there are storms ahead, but we know not how dangerous. We know that there will be smooth water ahead, fun and happiness, but we know not when and where.
What we have going for us at Bat Yam, however, is a crew that knows that with skillful handling of our ship, together with diligence and good humor, we are going to get there, wherever there is!
What will lead us to our destination is a compass that has never wavered since the beginning of the Jewish religion. Despite all the unknowns, our course never changes. We have way points for our journey that are written in stone and on which we can count as certainty to be there whatever goes on around us.
I am talking about the great plague of 2020 which has changed all our lives, made us scared and worst of all has us deeply worried about our families and in particular children, grandchildren and (for the lucky ones) even great-grandchildren.
I liken this to a roundthe-world sailboat race that, to compete in, requires above all patience, in addition to all the other skills. Fortunately, the entire congregation and leadership is demonstrating large doses of these qualities.
With all this in mind, where goes the future of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands? At a recent URJ webinar attended by over 70 leaders from various Reform Temples, there were many remarks pertaining to the future of their congregations.
Looking through the extensive list, I chose a few that pertain to us: tech skills – prior to COVID-19 how many of us knew the word “Zoom”? When things normalize, this technology is going to allow us to reach a much wider portion of our congregation than previously.
I am thinking here of those who miss services and events due to travel or ill health. On this subject, Zoom fatigue often came up.
It is incumbent on us to provide only first-class, technically competent programming for our webinars, which evidenced by our successful summer programs we have mastered. I would like to hear responses, good or bad, from congregants.
Another subject the URJ webinar discussed was budget. Many Temples are concerned, as we are, about meeting budgets and whether membership renewals will come in as expected this fall.
My thoughts are this is YOUR Temple, and it is totally in your hands as to what will happen. An asset we have is a spirit of engagement. Our volunteer leaders manage their tasks with skill and fortitude.
Finally, I do want to recognize the part that Rabbi Fuchs and Vickie and our Cantor Murray Simon and Toby have all played in bringing us to this point in our voyage. Their generosity of time and dedication to your Temple goes beyond words. Because of them we effectively did not have an “off” season. We owe them a huge vote of thanks.
And for all our volunteer leaders – you know who you are!
Wishing everyone happy holidays, well over the fast and as we welcome 5781, a very happy New Year!