Community Engagement and Finances

by Lynn Urbach, President

I’m honored to have been elected president of Bet Ha’am. And believe it or not, I’m looking forward to working for all of you for the next two years.

I’ve thought a lot about what I would like us to accomplish in these two years. And I dream. I dream that Bet Ha’am becomes, even more than it already is, a center for our Jewish lives. That not only is our synagogue the place we come to educate our children and ourselves, to pray and to celebrate and to seek support, but it is also the place we come because we are connected, a place each one of us knows that we are an integral part of the community, where we have friends and build new relationships. And I dream that our congregation will be on a solid financial footing, that we will pay all of our employees a livable wage, that we will catch up on the deferred maintenance our building needs, and that we can enhance our programming and activities without always worrying about what we will have to sacrifice in order to proceed. These two areas, engagement and financial stability, will be the primary focus of the board during the upcoming year.

Are you satisfied with your level of engagement at Bet Ha’am? Do you wish you or your family were more involved, that Bet Ha’am felt more like your personal community? I wish more of our members found their spiritual and personal community in our congregation. But I don’t know how to make that happen without your input. I would like to hear from you, members and friends of Bet Ha’am. I’d like to know what you like about our community, what you would like see more of, what frustrates you. What would you like to do as a part of this community? Do you think we should have more social activities? If yes, what would you participate in, what would you help organize? Friday evening Shabbat dinners in members’ homes? Movie nights? A cocktail hour for young adults? A tour of Jewish Boston or of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts?

As you can read in Tom Rosen’s Treasurer’s report, Bet Ha’am is not in a good financial position. To be honest, it’s a serious problem that must be addressed. The current bare-bones budget predicts a deficit of almost $45,000. The only alternative is to cut staff. I know next to nothing about finance, but I do know that our current position is untenable. It is crucial that we create a development committee that will plan, organize, and act. We would also benefit from smaller fundraising efforts. These would be activities or events that would raise money for specific expenses such as onegs (joyous receptions after services) or a new Wi-Fi system.

Obviously, these objectives cannot be reached with only board members working towards them. The Bet Ha’am board can represent the congregation, plan, and work for the congregation, only if you, our members and our friends, help. We need to hear from you. Do you have expertise that can help us build a strong development committee? Are you interested in helping to identify, plan, and/or implement activities or events that, in addition to being fun, would raise money? Will you help us identify, plan, and/or implement programs that engage congregants? It’s time to get rid of the box and explore new ideas. There’s only one way to bring your ideas to reality—you have to share them with someone.

I’m excited to see how much we can accomplish. Note that word: WE. The board and I can do almost nothing without help from you, and the entire congregation. We need you to help make things happen.I’d love to set up a time to chat on the phone or meet for coffee and hear your ideas, talk to you about our community, hear what your thoughts are, and get to know you. Please reach out to me (lynnmaine @ gmail.com) or any board member.

Image: Pixabay

I’m interested!

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