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President's Message - November 2020

Laurence Abbott

I have been reflecting on the High Holidays and how we marked the new year at Beth Shalom, and I am grateful for the support of Rabbi Schwarzman and Bettina Schwarzman, our board members, Howie Sniderman, who helped organize services, Ari Sniderman, who led our youth service, and everyone who davened part of our services, and/or read Torah and Haftarot. All of us are grateful for the support          Helena Khazanovsky provided to make our services possible. She organized seating, coordinated whatever needed to be coordinated, and made sure our members were well-informed about Beth Shalom’s High Holiday plans.

 

We had fewer congregants in the sanctuary for High Holiday services, but we know many people were watching the livestream. Analytics from our livestream indicated, for example, that there were nearly 200  devices tuned in on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and close to 250 on Erev Yom Kippur, and I hope that having access to the livestream helped all of us feel a little closer, this year.

 

Over the course of High Holidays, both Rabbi Schwarzman and I spoke to the congregation about the Nefesh Project; it is this year’s fundraising initiative. The normal approach for our Kol Nidre fundraising appeal, including the cards with the fold-down tabs, could not be used this year, so we are going to be reaching you through other channels, including the bulletin, to get the message out.

 

The Nefesh Project is deliberately different than the bricks-and-mortar appeals we are used to hearing on  Erev Yom Kippur. This project’s purpose is building and strengthening our community through member-developed and led programs that can get underway online, using platforms that we’re already using for  our daily services and education programs, and that many members of our community are using to work, to learn, and to socialize. The Nefesh Project takes a grassroots approach to programming; it is an invitation  to our kehillah members to generate ideas for programs that suit their needs and fit their lives, and, we  hope, it fosters new connections within our synagogue’s community and that it adds value to synagogue membership.

 

It is an agile project, meant to grow organically and encourage leadership development, building on existing networks through its programming model, creating new connections and new relationships within and beyond our kehillah. It is intended to serve as a complement to our existing programs, especially our very successful Adult Education program.

 

The project’s steering committee has been formed. It will produce a business plan and start building a toolkit that will help program-idea-generators to organize and lead their own programs. I want to thank Boris  

Belkin, who has agreed to chair this  committee, and Tatiana Codriansky Berdichewsky, who is helping us to build that business plan.

 

The first Nefesh Project program we will launch, as a proof of concept, is an initiative to collect and then distribute gently-used-but-no-longer-in-use  omputers and devices that can support online access to our  programs and services for members who do not have suitable devices.

 

This year, we are asking you for your financial support for The Nefesh Project, and we are inviting you to support the project in  other ways, as well. We need our members to be program-idea-generators and leaders  of the programs they create, we’re seeking help spreading the word about The Nefesh Project, we’re encouraging you to get involved in programs as they arise.

 

If this funding appeal sounds too pie-in-the-sky for you, we are always grateful for financial support for our wish list, like new Siddurim and Chumashim, funds to support Torah maintenance and restoration, and there are bricks-and-mortar upgrades to the wiring in some of the older memorial boards in the sanctuary, and we are in need of a new memorial board, as well.

 

Thank you for your continued support of Edmonton Beth Shalom.

Sat, 31 October 2020 13 Cheshvan 5781