Congregation Kneseth Israel in Annapolis, Maryland
ARCHIVE President's Messages
Message for January 2013
Last month I wrote “This column will be my last as President – next month most likely will be reprinting my comments from the Congregational meeting.” I’ve decided not to include my comments. For those who would like to see them, I will be happy to email or mail them to you. Instead, I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to our new President since many of you may not know him well since he’s a relative newcomer.
David Sliom was born in Durban, South Africa, a third generation South African of Lithuanian Rabbinic descent. The Great Synagogue in Durban was also associated with a Jewish Day School (Carmel College) where David attended through the 9th grade. At the age of 14 David moved with his family to the United States, living in San Antonio, TX for a year attending Congregation Rodfei Shalom. His family then moved to St. Louis, MO where he completed high school and attended Washington University, while being a member of Congregation Shaare Tzedek. David then moved to the Washington DC in Northern Virginia, and became a member of Congregation Agudath Achim in Alexandria. A final move to the Annapolis area, and he was able to find Congregation Kneseth Israel.
David has had executive and board experience, though not on religious or synagogue boards, serving on the boards of both Yacht Clubs and a Curling Club. After his father passed away in 2011 he reconnected with his Jewish roots and has been an active member of Kneseth Israel ever since. Professionally, he is the Director of Security at Resilience Technology Corporation, based in Hanover, MD. Below please find a few words from David.
When I first came to Kneseth Israel a few years ago, the first thing I noticed was how everyone in the community was incredibly welcoming. immediately felt right at home, more so than in any other synagogue in which I was a member. Everyone was so friendly and made a point to introduce themselves. It didn't take long for me to develop a true love for the community and synagogue. It has become such an important part of my life, I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the congregation to move forward. When I was asked to consider running for President of the congregation, I agreed. However, it was difficult for me, because I do not actively seek out positions of leadership. I felt that I could help the congregation and therefore was willing to do whatever was needed. I am looking forward to working with each and every member of the community to help advance Kneseth Israel.
I did want to mention that both measures voted upon at the Congregational Meeting on January 20th were approved. The change to decrease the number of trustees from five to three for the Endowment Trust Fund voting results were 52 “for” and 2 “against” and the change to the synagogue membership clause results were “40“ for, 12 “against” and 2 “abstain.” There were many concerns about the second issue and they are already being addressed by the Board of Governors.
Farewell and thank you to our two retiring Board members, Marcia Lewis and Bill Snyder and a hearty welcome to our two new members, Ron Katz and Sharon Stoddard who were joined by three returning members, Larry Block, Jack Schmerling, and Lore Singerman. The other 11 members are Shirley Aronson, Ron Elfenbein, Don Kadonoff, Steve Lebowitz, Jonas Legum, Howard Pinskey, Mike Snyder, Jeff Tenner, Larry Wolf, and, of course, Dave Sliom and myself. Hearty congratulations to the three recipients of Congregant of the Year awards who each did tremendous contributions to the synagogue, enabling us to move forward and expand our reputation as a forward thinking and continuously improving institution. The three are Don Kadonoff, Steve Lebowitz, and Dave Sliom. Lastly, a sincere thank you to all the Board members and congregants who supported me these last two years to enable so many successes during my Presidency.
All the best to David for a successful tenure as President – just remember that he is a volunteer trying to do what is best for all of us in CKI. Support him and success will follow. Stay warm!
Shalom! J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Message for December 2012
As I wrote last month, if each of us reflects we have much to be thankful for – I certainly do. We certainly have a great deal to be thankful for with everything that went on during the fantastic month of November. We had several “Hands-on Shabbat” programs, a new initiative by the Rabbi to help families identify more closely with the services, the Torah, and Judaism in general. Adding to this, we enjoyed our first family Havdalah get together and dinner. Each occasion has been an enjoyable learning experience, especially for the many children who have attended the events. With the call for help from our neighbors up north resulting from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, we contributed some extra chumashim and siddurim as well as a Torah to a needy congregation identified by Rabbi Weisblum through his network (their note of thanks is reprinted in the Kolenu). Additionally, we held a spaghetti dinner on Wednesday, the 28th with the proceeds being forwarded to assist the recovery efforts.
However, everything was eclipsed by the superb gala event for this year, the “Night on Broadway,” held November 17th. Gail and Mike Snyder, the co-chairs, or, as they liked to say, the co-Directors, demonstrated their creativity with this event, bringing something to CKI that was never done with an element of class never before seen. The announcements and graphics were fantastic as was every element of the food, and the auction. The musical entertainment was thoroughly enjoyed by all, including the participants. Many people made this event a success – but special mention should also be made of Steve Lebowitz and his kitchen crew. They came into the scene very late and succeeded in producing a crazily demanding menu that had been laid out long before Steve was involved. He and his crew pulled it off without a hitch.
Of course on the international front, there was the misery of the violence from Gaza after Election Day. Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Weisblum went to visit his family in Israel and then the ceasefire was brokered – I would like to think the Rabbi’s presence was directly related, though our Secretary of State may differ with that opinion. Regardless, we can all be grateful for a ceasefire, no matter how tenuous.
December brings us colder and shorter days but also the warmth and brightness of Chanukah. We’ll be having a dinner on December 15th (the eighth night), starting at 6 PM which should be a wonderful opportunity for a VERY bright community celebration – good food, good music, good comradery. Hope all of you can come. We also have guest lecturers coming during the month, including Dr. Daniel Zisenwine from Israel, a visiting professor at the Naval Academy who will be speaking on the 23rd at 11 AM.
Lastly, please mark your calendar for Sunday, January 20th for our annual Congregational meeting. We will be voting on two important amendments to the bylaws, one dealing with membership. As always we will look at the past year and have a discussion on the future. This will also be my last meeting presiding as President and where I will award the Congregant(s) of the Year. It is important that you’re there and I personally would greatly appreciate it.
Have a bright and festive December and Chanukah!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Message for November 2012
Yes, the weather is gorgeous – beautiful leaves, cool, comfortable days (yesterday was 81 – what’s up with that?) Yet, as I write this there is talk of our area being threatened by Tropical Storm Sandy. Trouble coming? Maybe, maybe not.
The critical factor for all of us as we look towards the future of the weather and of our Congregation Kneseth Israel is to realize that although all may look and feel beautiful for the moment, we need to be ready for challenges and changes. We need to be able to handle them to our advantage and betterment. I appealed to the Congregation on Yom Kippur for funds to help us fix critical maintenance issues and address long-needed improvements. A significant number of you followed through generously allowing us to look forward with an optimistic outlook.
Sisterhood held a wonderful luncheon in October marking their many wonderful accomplishments over more than a century of service, presenting the synagogue with a substantial check to go towards a newly designed and handicapped accessible eastern (parking lot) entrance, and noting their inactivation. This can certainly be looked upon as a sad or at least a bittersweet occasion, and indeed, to a degree, it was. However, keeping with that optimistic outlook, others have looked at this as an opportunity to re-organize and bring Sisterhood back even stronger and better than it was. We’ll have to see what happens – however, just that some leaders have the drive to work towards this new beginning is a very positive thing.
For years we have watched the shifting demographics impact our membership. There are some continuing, creative attempts at trying to draw membership from other geographical areas; though not for lack of trying, these attempts have not yet produced the result we need. However, many other creative programs have been initiated to try to take advantage of our many assets. Not only are our membership dues and procedures by far the least burdensome and most competitive in the area but we offer the most comprehensive youth programs anywhere. Of course all know of our superb Nursery School with its many programs, our Hebrew School, our Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation program, our weekly Tot Shabbat services. Now we are adding a bi-weekly “Hands-on Shabbat” program on Friday evenings geared towards families to experience the joy of the service and Torah reading up close (first one was October 19th, second one will be November 2nd). We are starting a regular family Havdalah evening for all to experience the fun of celebrating the end of Shabbat on Saturday evening (November 10th) – see the accompanying flyer. We are going to get a new, upgraded, beautiful playground soon and are looking into upgrading many of our facilities (helped by those appeal donations), all with the intent of attracting more members. So yes, there are challenges, maybe even some storms ahead – but together we can forge through to make us stronger and better as a synagogue and as a community.
On a different subject, this is the time of that quintessential American holiday, Thanksgiving. So, during this period I like to reflect on one of my favorite movie quotes, “Do you feel lucky?” and yes, I do. We have a tremendous Congregation doing one great thing after another – I certainly hope to see all of you at our November 17th gala celebration, “Night on Broadway,” which will showcase how fortunate we are by being surrounded with great friends, great food, great entertainment, and great items for sale all possible because of great work by many of our congregants. Many of us have had a challenging year, whether it was personal loss, professional difficulties, health-related issues, or other obstacles. In spite of this, it is critical that we look at the good that surrounds us, the many blessings we have from Hashem and the prospect for great things in the future.
I have a great deal to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and a significant part of that is I’m thankful for the community of Congregation Kneseth Israel and all that I glean from that relationship. I hope you also appreciate some of the wonderful benefits of our CKI community. So yes, I do feel lucky for so much that I have and enjoy – I hope you do too, and I am looking forward to seeing you at any of our many celebrations and programs.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Message for October 2012
Yom Kippur has just concluded and I’m hoping we are all sealed for a healthy and prosperous 5773. I just returned from a Break the Fast from one of our friends’ house and am sitting at the computer reflecting on our good fortune from the past and what will hopefully come in the future. High Holiday services were excellent and if you were fortunate enough to be there, I hope you agree with me. This past month had fantastic events: the Adelstein Bar Mitzvah, the Erber Bat Mitzvah, our first art class, the program on the “The Open Door,” a film in the making about the Filipino saving of over 1300 Jews during the Holocaust, and more. However, I’m looking to the immediate future.
I’m on my way to NJ in a couple of days to spend time with my mother – we’re going to the Metropolitan Opera – yes, I’m a lucky son. Sunday morning, I bring my Mom back down here since she always spends part of Succoth with us. As soon as we get down here, we’ll be putting up the Sukkah and that’s what’s I’m going to talk about. So, this has nothing to do with the synagogue – but I thought it might be fun to share.
My father comes from a beautiful town called Eschwege, Germany, near the city of Kassel. His parents built a gorgeous house (yes, been there several times – that’s another story) which had a covered porch in the back – it had a moveable roof, allowing branches on top, making a sukkah. My father was told by his mother that he was conceived in that sukkah – hey, what can I tell you, that’s what he said. I suspect that’s why Succoth always meant a great deal to him.
When I was little (about 5, I was the third of four children), my father started erecting his dramatic sukkah. Every year he’d build in an improvement. This temporary structure (yes, we erected it and took it down every year – one year when my Dad waited too long to take it down, about four weeks, we woke up to a bang and to see a heap of wood after the Sukkah collapsed – it was hilarious) was 12 by 8 feet, with a raised floor on 4x4 timbers, with two windows, a cool hinged door and my father’s humorous artwork. The schach (roof) was held by about a dozen 1x2s and loaded with white pine. Another improvement he made was a sloped plastic cover we could roll down so we could eat inside even if it poured. I remember someone telling me it wasn’t kosher with the cover rolled over (the requirement is to see the stars through the schach) to which I just laughed – at least we could enjoy the spirit of the holiday when it rained while others just ate inside rather than getting wet. As kids we loved to sleep in there – the grand adventure. My Dad built the sukkah a couple of more times after my youngest sister went off to college until he realized it was too much work without the flunkies (also known as children).
So I knew I always wanted to get a Sukkah, for the holiday meant a tremendous amount to me. But we were moving around with the Army and I kept putting it off. Our oldest, Jacob, pressured us that we should build a sukkah in the late 80s during our first tour in Germany with the Army. So when we returned here and I was assigned to Meade (and joined CKI for the first time) I found out from the Rabbi on Fort Meade about a portable, easy-to-erect sukkah. I called who he suggested, ordered an 8x10 aluminum poled frame, canvas-sided structure that we’ve now used for 24 years. Where did we get the schach? From Harold and Roz Singerman’s bamboo patch – they have lots and would be more than happy if you took some. Our decorations are simple: old holiday cards strung together, Indian corn, seasonal gourds, all my old lulavim and one Mogen David I made from wood years ago. This year I needed to cut new bamboo – it gets nasty after using it several years. So, I decided to make our life easier and we bought a bamboo mat from the same folks from whom we bought the original sukkah(www.sukkah.com) that we just roll out – too bad the Israelites didn’t have it so easy 3000 years ago.
So, this Sunday, September 30th, hopefully you were at CKI erecting our sukkah and enjoying the barbecue treat afterwards. I’ll be on my way back from NJ with my Mom, and then erecting our sukkah for the 25th year. Hope to see you during Sukkoth and our wonderful celebrations for Schemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
Chag Sameach and all the best for a superb 5773!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Message for September 2012
August was a great month in many ways. Several of us were able to get away for little or big breaks though it’s always nice to return to the warmth (in hospitality, not temperature) of KI. The month ended with a wonderful bang with a delightful barbecue on Sunday, the 26th organized by our Programming Committee. Everyone enjoyed a fun-filled event in spite of some crazy weather alternating between sun-soaked and rain-drenched times. Of course August was chuck full of learning opportunities with many Talmud study sessions, Torah classes, Hebrew classes, Chavrutah study sessions, and the Rabbi’s stellar lectures. Hebrew School officially kicked off. There is always something going on.
We do have some great programs coming up in the not too distant future. On September 9th we will have a fascinating presentation by Noel Izon, award-winning filmmaker, about his movie “An Open Door” which details the saving of over 1300 Jews by the Filipino government during the Holocaust. It should be a fascinating discussion. The programming committee is working on bringing in additional entertainers and lecturers in the near future also. We need to mention an evening none of us will forget and all will want to be a part of, our upcoming “Night on Broadway,” being chaired by the dual directorship of Gail and Mike Snyder. Please consider one easy way to help the event by donating a worthy item or service for the silent auction. This promises to be a wonderful evening. Before then, we have many holidays, programs and experiences to enjoy.
The Rabbi mentioned preparing for the holidays and it is something all of us must reverently do. This is the time we must be introspective and ask others to forgive us for our faults in the past as we look to the future and how we can improve ourselves. The price for those of us who try to improve things and help organizations move forward is sometimes we impinge on people’s comfort zones or their perceived territory – when I have done that and I know I have to members of the KI family, I sincerely do apologize. The hope is that we can all always move forward together in this strong traditional Jewish community, offering what everyone needs, from the very observant to those less so. Your Board of Governors strives very hard to meet the many requirements that are set before us with significantly limited resources and we realize that what we may consider successful is not necessarily meeting others’ needs – on behalf of the Board, I apologize for that shortcoming. We hope in this time of introspection and personal growth, all of us can find the strength to understand others’ weaknesses and offer our strengths to help balance the scales.
On behalf of our family and our Board of Governors “family,” I’d like to wish all of you a healthy, happy New Year and may all of us be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Message for August 2012
July was hot – and then rainy – but nothing keeps the activities at Kneseth Israel from rolling along. The month was sandwiched by two great occasions. On the 1st of July, we were privileged to host Professor Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University who spoke eloquently, brilliantly and passionately about his latest book, When General Grant Expelled the Jews. Professor Sarna’s entertaining presentation was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Why was he here at CKI? He was the featured speaker for this year’s Rabbi Morris and Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblattz”l Memorial Lecture. The experience was inspiring. If you missed it, don’t make the same mistake next year. Thank you to the Rosenblatt family and to the dedicated committee, chaired by Roz and David Krimins, for this tremendous opportunity open to the community. These lectures are always a wonderful and it was good to see many congregants and others from outside CKI enjoying the event. At the end of the month we celebrated the solemn occasion of Tisha B’av with services, discussions and activities to mark this most tragic day in our history – a holiday that helps us remember the good and bad fortunes in our lives.
But now I’d like to talk about one of the good things, something that many of you may be interested in – your choir. For many the choir adds a great deal to the whole experience of being in CKI during the high holy days. Back in 1993 (or was it ’92?), Cantor Redfern organized the first choir. I started in ’96, a year following our return from our latest overseas tour with the Army. I rapidly learned that this was a wonderfully dedicated group. We were about eight strong then and had some fantastically talented members. Things changed and we had to rebuild 10 years ago with Rabbi Weisblum’s arrival when we started with only three of us, Earl Diamond and Steve Sutton on the bass/baritone side and me as the lone tenor (not so bad since the Rabbi is a high tenor). Then we grew, had some ups and downs, but continued on. We have lost two of our mainstay baritones recently, Larry Goldstein two years ago and Earl Diamond this year. Steve Sutton is the last of the original members and now the anchor of our baritones.
Rabbi initiated two creative things this year – he brought in Shouvik Mondle, his voice teacher (yes, the one who sang magnificently at the dinner honoring Rabbi’s 10 years here) to be our director. Secondly, we’re integrating women in the singing to add melody and harmony from the congregational seats and help everyone in participating with the choir. You’ll be introduced to all the members of the choir in the future (we’re actually still recruiting, having just added a tenor and baritone). However, it is important to note the three new women who have joined who will add to the musical experience for everyone. They are Debbie Weiner, Gail Snyder, and Leslie Gradet. They will also be part of our mixed choir along with some other women when we bring the show on the road at the November 17th gala, “An Evening on Broadway.”
We have been rigorously practicing, learning new voice techniques that most of us never knew (well, I certainly did not), enabling us to hopefully sound better than ever before. We are reviewing some of our old standards (Su She’arim, Hallelujah, etc.) hoping to help make your holidays truly holy. Most of our signature pieces are during musaf, after the Torah reading and Rabbi’s sermon. So those of you who stay get to hear the full impact of the choir and the holiness of the day. We like to sing for you – you know we sing our hearts out. Just two months away!!
Lastly, we are in the midst of running our first summer camp in several years. Thank you to the staff who brought back this important part of our children’s programs. This time around it was a huge success in fun, friendship, and good times, guaranteed to be a bigger success next year!
Enjoy the rest of your summer – stay cool – remember, as the Rabbi noted in his column, it’s always cool in Kneseth Israel – after all, the air conditioning is working!!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Message for July 2012
June was a tremendous month in many ways and especially at our synagogue. Every Shabbat we had a sponsored Kiddush prepared by our wonderful kitchen committee. We celebrated a 90th birthday (Anna Foer’s father, Irving Fine), two graduations (Karen Lindeman and Stuart Baker’s daughter, Dara from high school and Joy and Mark Goldberg’s son, Elliott from the University of Maryland), and a Bar Mitzvah anniversary (David Sliom’s). We also celebrated the Simchah Bat of Helen and David Cohen’s daughter, Chaya Rivkah (and Avi’s baby sister) and raised money for a worthy cause through Bingo for Israel (thank you, Steve Weiner for your superb coordination). The Rabbi is continuing his enthralling and very current lecture series that he started up again in April and of course our Talmud, Hebrew and other classes just continue to move forward at full steam. There are always ways to enjoy yourself and learn at your Congregation Kneseth Israel.
I’d like to shift gears a little and talk about a critical subject for us and that’s volunteers. Some of our congregants are just unbelievable with all they do, topped always by the queen of volunteerism, Shirley Aronson. There are many who are hidden that people don’t know about and who are critical to our operation. One who always comes to mind is Jean Legum who quietly but strongly leads the membership effort among oh so many other tasks. However, we do not have close to enough volunteers and many of our most dedicated ones give till it hurts – figuratively speaking. Many volunteer a little and if more would volunteer just a little, it would be easier for everyone. We may no longer have Bingo – but there are many other opportunities in which to excel.
Speaking of opportunities, a wonderful one is coming with the Rabbi and Mrs. Morris D. Rosenblatt z”l Memorial Lecture on July 1st when the renowned speaker, Dr. Jonathan Sarna is coming to speak about a dark chapter for the Jews in America during the Civil War. (Did you know the Jewish War Veterans, the oldest American veterans group, was formed partially because of prejudice towards the Jews in the Civil War?) Several volunteers will be helping ensure the Rosenblatt lecture is a success. Many programs are quietly underway over the next couple of months spearheaded by several members. The big one will be November 17th when we are planning a gala dinner event and silent auction with musical entertainment. All will be opportunities for you to participate and help volunteer and make CKI a better place to pray, learn, socialize and enjoy being Jewish.
Hope to see everyone in services and many of our upcoming events. Enjoy your July and be grateful for what we have during this glorious July 4th Independence Day celebration.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President
____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Message from June 2012
The beautiful weather is here, grass is bright green, flowers are bright everywhere, and the perspective is bright for our congregation. We have raised $44,000 in our special fund initiated during our April 15th special congregational meeting. These funds were given by congregants and non-congregants (39 total) who chose to continue to look at Congregation Kneseth Israel as the beacon of Jewish tradition, education, and community as it has always been for so many of us. The catalysts for this effort were the generous donations of major gifts by a few of our creative congregants. Several of the contributors wanted to remain anonymous and that is how it will stay – so you will not see a listing here in the Kolenu. However, each contributor heard from me directly with a note of sincere gratitude and I am thanking each one here again.
Speaking of moving forward, we met with our fellow congregants from Congregation Kol Shalom (the first of on-going meetings). We have determined several venues where we can move forward in sharing programs and activities as we march down the road to the benefit of each organization. We hope to have some fun religious celebrations together, especially where it will benefit our children, and also some programming, educational and social programs together. This may sound small to some. However, not since the United Jewish Council was active and held the Annapolis Jewish Festivals have the community synagogues worked together. Certainly the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School is some mortar in the relationships – but this is the first time in a long time where these two Annapolis synagogues are working together towards a brighter future for both.
We have had several kiddushim on Shabbat this past month celebrating great events, occurrences or people. I know of two college graduations, and I’m sure there are others we should be commemorating. A hearty congratulations to our member graduates, Ariel Strumpf and Elliott Goldberg who both graduated from Maryland (Go Terps! as our son would say). Additionally, Elliott was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a superb achievement. Congratulations to all, including all those I’m sure to hear about as soon as others read this!
The glorious holiday of Shavuot occurred the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. As we celebrated our receiving the Torah, we unfortunately could not celebrate Memorial Day by us veterans who typically march (well, roll in our cars) in the Annapolis Memorial Day parade. Memorial Day is a quintessential American holiday honoring those who have sacrificed so much for our way of life while celebrating everything we have as Americans. On this Memorial Day, we had the Yizkor (i.e. memorial) service where we remembered our loved ones. This was the last time for Yizkor this year of 5772. Could there have been a more appropriate way to celebrate Memorial Day? I don’t think so.
Have a glorious June and a wonderful summer.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President _______________________________________________________________ Message from May 2012
April was a memorable and glorious month for our congregation. For CKI, April 1st should be renamed April Commemoration Day since many members and guests (about 250) commemorated Rabbi Weisblum’s 10 years with us on that day. We heard numerous accolades and notes of appreciation related to the many contributions he has made to us and the community in so many different ways. Rabbi Weisblum has brought a new level of halachic standard while involving more congregants in conducting services. His scholastic pursuits are certainly unparalleled and he happily shares them with all through his lectures, talks, and group teaching sessions. We certainly look forward to growing together with Rabbi Weisblum through many wonderful experiences in any number of religious, educational, and rewarding experiences in the future.
The next Friday (April 6th) brought the first seder, catered once again by our magnificent kitchen staff. Though the Goldsmith clan was not there, enjoying our sederim with family in New Jersey, I heard only wonderful things about the evening. Shkoyach (job well done) and yasher koach (strength to you) for all involved in accomplishing this wonderful mitzvah and for all those involved with the Rabbi’s dinner on the first.
The next week, about 100 congregants got together on a beautiful Sunday to discuss suggestions for how to make things better for our synagogue. The purpose of the meeting was for members to suggest topics and opinions on upcoming discussions with Congregation Kol Shalom. Our goal, simple in words but most likely challenging in execution is for us to work for both of our benefit and to share resources as it makes sense to do so. A number of concrete, substantive ideas were brought forth which will be carried forward as the discussions begin and progress. Additionally, many of us were pleasantly surprised by the announcements of several congregants to generously donate significant funds to move forward on retiring our debt. Several others have donated more since then, totaling almost $30K as I write this column. All will personally hear from me – but you should know that this is an incredibly generous gesture and important to the economic health of CKI. Operating our congregation is always a challenge in many respects – but the wonderful product in a high standard of religious, educational, social events and programs makes the efforts well worth the challenge.
All the best for a beautiful May as we enter into the joyous season of Lag B’Omer and Shavuot. I am looking forward to seeing all of you at many of our wonderful synagogue activities.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President ________________________________________________ Message from April 2012 By the time you read this, we should have celebrated what will certainly be a grand evening as we mark Rabbi Weisblum’s 10th anniversary with us as our spiritual leader. A large crowd is expected with guests from New York and all around the greater metropolitan Baltimore-Washington area. This is a celebration of Rabbi Weisblum’s religious guidance, scholarship and leadership – equally important is that it is a celebration of our Congregation’s rich history where Rabbi Weisblum is now our third longest-serving rabbi. All of us should be proud of his legacy with our community and our synagogue.
Pesach is certainly my favorite holiday of the year and I’m glad it is right around the corner. To me it means family sederim (this year both in New Jersey), matzah sandwiches for a week (I love them), the best matzah balls ever (my paternal grandmother’s recipe from northern Germany), Schwämmchen (a matzah pancake from my Mom’s east Prussia roots), and unbelievable homemade Egyptian matzah (the advantage of marrying an Egyptian wife)! Of course it also means a slightly messed up digestive system – but, there’s a price for everything worthwhile. I am looking forward to leading the first seder at my mother’s house though that means I’ll unfortunately be missing the seder here. Hopefully if you’re in town you will have the opportunity to participate with our unbelievably low-priced seder on the first night – quite simply, our sederim at CKI are always a delicious and delightful treat led poignantly but purposefully by Rabbi Weisblum.
March was a month of beautiful early budding cherry blossoms and many beautiful young children at our Purim celebration. That was a really fun evening of megillah reading, Purim slide show, wonderful costumes, delicious food, and delightful music. If you missed this evening, do not lament on the lost opportunity but, instead, ensure you make it next year – enjoying Purim is one of those many times where it is just downright fun to be Jewish.
Later in the month, several of us enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Ken Block about travel possibilities in Europe, with a discussion of the historical transition of the European Jews through the centuries.
We have our special Congregational meeting coming up on April 15th and it is an excellent opportunity for you, our congregants, to provide guidance to your Board of Governors before we start our discussions with Congregation Kol Shalom as to what we should and could do together to benefit both organizations. Please come and share your thoughts with us.
Enjoy the beautiful spring weather and continue to take advantage of the many resources and experiences your Congregation Kneseth Israel offers to you. Chag sameach and a festive Passover to all!
Jody Goldsmith, President _____________________________________
Message from March 2012
With the joyous holidays of Purim and Pesach right around the corner, it is obvious spring is rapidly approaching. Of course with the weather the way it’s been, we have not had much of a winter – but spring is the time of renewal and a time to look at the opportunities to strive for in the future.
We have so many opportunities in this congregation and this community that I’d like to emphasize to everyone to try to dip your foot in the fountain we know as Congregation Kneseth Israel and take advantage of what we offer here and what’s offered beyond our walls. As hopefully everyone knows, our Rabbi gives tremendous lectures in incredibly diverse subjects with immense depth of knowledge, yet with entertaining delivery. His second lecture was this last weekend in February – want to be intellectually stimulated with an Ivy League level scholastic lecture? Come to the next one. Do you want to learn more about the Talmud, argue with rabbinic students, see why so many are confused about different religious schools of thought? Come to a Chavrusa study session – held every Monday evening from 6 to 8 PM (come late or leave early if you need to). Of course you can attend our Rabbi’s Bible study class held every Thursday at 10 AM. Want to be inspired by international tunes, the best Torah chanting in the state (well, at least in several counties), schmooze with the nicest people in the world? Come to any of the CKI Shabbat services. Want to learn how to or why we lay tefillin – come any weekday (including Sundays and holidays) to our daily morning service. I assure you that I only take advantage of a fraction of what this synagogue offers – and I know there are so many choices and so much competition. But try some of these activities – I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Outside our walls, the opportunities are endless. There was an absolutely tremendous program at the Banneker-Douglas Museum on February 19th that we sponsored together with our fellow Jewish congregations in the county and some other organizations. At the museum, artist Loring Cornish presented several of his works tying together the experiences and heritages of African American and Jews. They were beautiful works drawn from a creative perspective different from any I had seen before. All who attended were totally enthralled. The next segment of this series will be Sunday, March 11th, from 3:30 to 5 PM titled “In Each Others Shoes: The Jewish and African American Fight for Civil Rights,” to be held at Asbury United Methodist Church, 87 West Street.
Take advantage of your synagogue and your community. Hope to see you at the dinner honoring Rabbi Weisblum’s 10th anniversary with us, scheduled to be held the early evening of April 1st. The community Seder this year will be the FIRST night, Friday, April 6th – plan for it now!
Happy March – Happy Spring!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President _____________________________________________________________
Message from February 2012
President's Remarks at Annual Congregational Meeting held January 22, 2012
Forty seven years ago, my older sister, Laurie had her Bat Mitzvah in Congregation Knesseth Israel. The President, and our father, presented her and her two friends who were Bat Mitzvahed with her with gifts from the congregation. That synagogue, in Bound Brook, New Jersey, is still going strong and over 90 years old. Sound familiar? Many of you have legacies in Annapolis and some of us have legacies spread over several states.
Legacy at our synagogue is very important – but not near as important as thinking of the future. Today we will talk of the recent past, last year, and looking at it as a foundation to build our future. Please remember – the future is what’s most important, based on a strong foundation of the past.
Building our future, we welcome our new members: Michael and Janean Adelstein, Robert and Miriam Adelstein, Betty Callbeck, Don and Gerri Kadanoff, Tracey Manoff, Natalie Manoff, David Sliom, Aaron and Ngozi Wexler, and Larry Wolfe.
We had a year of superb programs. We had numerous Shabbat dinners including Father’s Day with Barry Strumpf entertaining us, and another honoring our Police and Fire Departments through their chiefs. A wonderful Rosenblatt lecture with Dr. Erica Brown, a joyous Lag B’Omer pool party and picnic, the fantastic Cabaret Night at CKI, an unbelievable Night to Remember honoring our Shirley, the best Chanukah celebration ever, and one tremendous religious celebration after another.
We support our community through our membership and participation in GAIN (the Greater Annapolis Interfaith Network), our symbiotic relationship geographically, religiously, and otherwise with Aleph Bet Jewish Day School, and supporting the Toys for Tots and SPCA collection programs.
Of course we are all aware that when you need or want to attend a minyan, attend services at any of the many religious holidays, study the Torah weekly (or more), study the Talmud, take part in the religious service, there is only one synagogue that offers it all in this community and that’s us.
We have done many improvements to keep our physical plant up to snuff – unfortunately, there is never a shortage of opportunities to do more. We fixed faucets, painted classrooms, fixed thermostats, installed temperature controllers, installed a boiler outdoor temperature regulator and CFL bulbs in the auditorium (the last three tasks to save energy and maintenance and thereby save money), numerous roof repairs, instituted a recycling program (again saving money), numerous HVAC and roof repairs, and our new school wing hallway floor.
Looking to the future, we need a tighter social network, even more programs, and more members. But we have so many volunteers who do so much (though we always need more).
When it comes to volunteers, Bingo, a critical source of revenue that now seems to be gathering steam after operating just under two years has many who help but needs many more so folks don’t get burnt out. We’ve netted over $10,000, we’re getting more players and increasing our advertisers to hopefully increase our return on investment. But we do need more help. To give credit where it is due, the regulars are Sandy and Art Torf, Lenny Berman, Isaac Benatar, Shirley and Eddie Aronson, Lore and Mark Singerman, Don Kadanoff, Anita Tenner, Amira Goldsmith, Elaine Kahn, Walt Beckerman, Gail and Mike Snyder, Steve Weiner, Joy Goldberg, Glenn Carr, Barbara Appel, Steve Sutton, Marshall Mentz, Brian and Amy Applestein, Larry Block and David Sliom with help also from Bob Goldberg, Gilbert Mouyal, Steve Lebowitz, Larry Prichep, Jean Legum, Holly Lindeman, Debbie and Steve McKerrow, Pam and Bob Weigert, and Hannah Sonnenberg. Additionally, helping in the kitchen are stalwarts Joan Blum, Adele Greil, Irene Weinfeld, and Paula Wollman. Catherine Davidson has been leading much of this effort for which she was appropriately recognized last year. But leadership and management is now transitioning to others. Please let Joy Goldberg know if you can give a little time to this effort in the future. It is fun and critically important.
Although we certainly thank people at special events, we need to recognize the leadership of Lynn Kay making the Cabaret Night fantastic and Lynn and Jean Legum making our Night to Remember in November truly a night to remember. Debbie McKerrow got the programs moving for us at the beginning of the year for which we are grateful. Pam Weigert picked up any slack and made the programs work and work well this past year, pulling her super-chef husband, Bob, in to help or lead many of the cooking efforts. Speaking of cooking, there is the ever superb kitchen committee, getting better by the week and expanding its efforts. This group includes Steve Lebowitz, Leah Prichep, Shirley Aronson, Marshall Mentz, David Cohen, Dore Lebowitz, Roz Krimins, Ilanit Evers, Glenn Carr, Gilbert and Annie Mouyal, Paula Carrigan, Susan Maier, and Lesley Harris.
Last year was a snow killing year and Jeff Tenner and his associates were life-savers for us for keeping the synagogue and schools accessible and safe through their timely and thorough plowing. Seats were continuously repaired, new mechitza installed (and recently stained/finished), doors repaired all due to the efforts led by Walt Beckerman and assisted by Steve Sutton and Larry Wolf. Speaking of Steve, no one is more meticulous yet sensitive to the needs of the synagogue coupled with those of the members through his leadership efforts with honors and memorials.
So many air conditioning and heating and plumbing and leaking efforts have been addressed this year by Mike Snyder and now Don Kadanoff, that existing without them does not seem to be possible. Art Torf’s assistance with electrical and computer issues was and is invaluable. When historical issues arise and I don’t know where to turn, there’s always Aloys Evers who still is a critical House committee asset.
We’ve been involved with the Greater Annapolis Interfaith Network or GAIN for the last several years through Debbie McKerrow’s initiative. Glenn and Ytta Carr and the Lebowitz’s also helped at the annual fair. However, Steve Weiner as our new representative has raised our profile to a new level which is certain to reap awards for us.
The annual Yizkor Memorial Book is a critical source of comfort for our present and past members and of funding for our synagogue. This huge effort is led tirelessly by Amira Goldsmith who receives invaluable assistance from Betty Goldstein.
Our children attending services receive regular treats from the Rabbi, thanks to the Rabbi but also to Donna Kahn who ensures they’re tasty AND nutritious.
There were three major presidential commissions started at the beginning of this year. One, dealing with membership, has completed their work and made a number of superb recommendations, many which were already enacted. This tremendous group was led by Jean Legum and had Sarah Cohen, Ann Katcef, Jonas Legum, and Lore Singerman as diligent members. The second committee was dealing with capital improvements led by Mike Snyder with membership of Anna Greenberg, Mel Hyatt and Gene Lerner; this group reached a milestone with three major projects, requiring funding for preliminary drawings that we cannot yet pursue – but their efforts were invaluable. The third major effort was dealing with planned giving and long-term fundraising and is still a work in progress.
There are many others to note and thank and some I’m certain to forget for which I apologize in advance. There is always Nancy Gordon with all her work for the Hebrew School, her clear and meaningful phone tree announcements, and who knows what else. There’s Cheryl Morgan always lending a hand adding her artistic eyes and hands to beautify so many occasions. There’s Steve Earle always dutifully chairing the High Holiday seat committee and assisting with his expertise in Bingo. There’s Larry Block and Leslie Gradet coordinating the High Holiday aliyot. There’s Jean Legum superbly coordinating the membership efforts. There’s Bruce Friedman ensuring all have a minyan when requested. Earl Diamond ensures the yahrzeit lights are on when they’re supposed to be, a task being assumed now by David Sliom. There’s David Schneider and Mike Snyder delivering and processing the Koleinu at the post office every month. There’s Elaine Kahn, David Krimins, and others helping when needed. There are the gabbayim and gabbayot (Marilyn Halpern, Libby Monias, Gail Snyder, Glenn Carr, David Cohen, Barnett Rattner, and Steve Sutton) who ensure our services are unsurpassed. There’s our home grown choir of Earl Diamond, Brian Applestein, Moshe Schmuelis, Steve Sutton, David Sliom and Larry Wolfe, adding critical beauty and meaning to our High Holiday services. There is a tremendous new website, still a work in progress, for which we should thank several, but especially our tireless webmaster, Glenn Carr.
Although I’m noting the many volunteers to try to credit them at this time (and I apologize again in advance for any I left out), I would be remiss if I did not note our tremendous employees and how they help make Kneseth Israel the wonderful place it is. A special thank you to Rabbi Weisblum, an advisor, friend, and inspiration with whom I have the pleasure of sharing the helm of this ship. I also need to thank our Board of Governors for proudly leading this congregation through often difficult times and decisions; that includes, Shirley Aronson, Glenn Carr, Bruce Friedman, Jonas Legum, Jeff Tenner, Larry Block, Marcia Lewis, Jack Schmerling, Bill Snyder, Lore Singerman, Howard Pinskey, and Michael Snyder. One member had to resign prematurely due to excessive business commitments, who went on the Board as a personal favor to me and I want to personally thank Debbie McKerrow for her service.
Lastly, I need to thank some people who have been my advisors on a private basis and helped ensure that I try to keep the right beacon shining at this esteemed institution; a huge thank you to Howard Pinskey, Lore Singerman, Shirley Aronson, Glenn Carr, and especially Anna Greenberg. Lastly, I could never carry out my duties as gabbai, choir member, and President without the unbending support of my most wonderful wife, Amira.
Addendum: Certificates were presented to Bruce Friedman and Glenn Carr for their dedicated service while serving multiple terms on the Board of Governors. Pam Weigert was presented a certificate for her exceptional efforts on ensuring the success of multiple programs. Michael Snyder was presented the award of Congregant of the Year for his steadfast, exceptional, widespread, and long-lasting service to the synagogue and the Annapolis community over many, many years.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President __________________________________________________ Message from January 2012
Greetings as we begin the year 2012. We closed out the year with a bang, having a wonderful December at CKI. The month started with a Shabbat Kiddush honoring our truly invaluable employees on the 3rd (hence their pictures on the front with others). We enjoyed another Kiddush the following week sponsored by Ethan Halpern in honor of his parents, Marilyn and Erniez”l. Of course we enjoyed the holiday of Chanukah with an array of music by our choir, delicious food, a magician, candle lighting and warm fellowship – emphasis on the warm during this chilly December. Interspersed were our Torah study and Hebrew classes and usual variety of superb scholarly pursuits. We supported the Marines’ “Toys for Tots” and the SPCA’s collection programs this holiday season. Thank you to all who contributed to these worthy causes as we supported the greater Annapolis community.
Beginning January, we are starting a new program to encourage young Jewish residents to enjoy the privilege of membership at our synagogue. You have often read of the many advantages of membership in our congregation. But, even with these advantages, increasing our membership is still the highest priority for us to remain successful in the long term. A few months ago we instituted the policy of half-price membership to any Jewish couple where one spouse is age 30 or under. This is in addition to a policy of one-year free membership for newlyweds. Starting this January, families who pay for their children to attend our Nursery School or the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School will be offered full membership with no dues. Our goal is to establish long-term relationships with these families, giving them a break when they need it most as they balance significant educational expenses against limited incomes. Time will tell if we are effective with these efforts.
Big news: visit our NEW website – same address: www.knesethisrael.org. Let us know what you think. Thank you so much to the anonymous donors for making the new site possible. Also, we are now actively recycling and doing the right thing for the environment – so all paper, cans, bottles, and recyclable plastic goes in the recycling bins!
Remember the upcoming Annual Congregational meeting on January 22nd at 10 AM. In addition to the meeting and a light brunch we will have a program showing the movie, “Jerusalem: the Center of the World,” describing the over 4000 year history of this city so important to our religion, culture, heritage and the world. Hope to see everyone there. All the best for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from December 2011
Knowing this Koleinu is being sent out around Thanksgiving, it is important we reflect for a moment on how fortunate we are to live in the greater Annapolis community with all it offers, to be members of our synagogue and all it gives us religiously and socially, and to live in this great country that provides us so much. We should reflect on how Congregation Kneseth Israel as an institution is able to meet a tremendous number of our needs as a Jewish community in terms of religious observance, education and social interaction.
On the evening of November 4th, over 100 of us wondered how one person, Shirley Aronson, could have done so many things for so many people and accomplished so much during a wonderful “Night to Remember.” She is truly a major cog in this CKI machine and was critical to its past, present and future operation. She has the distinction of having been married to another past President, Donz”l and therefore, they were the only husband/wife duo to have both been Presidents. Presentations by the speakers, Ruth Manus, Shirley’s sister, and Lenora Lerner, Shirley’s long-time neighbor and friend, were inspiring, informative, and humorous. Set-up, food, flowers, presentations, etc. were all top notch and exemplary of the excellent events our Congregation produces. For those who missed this occasion, just ask your friend or neighbor who was there!
Thanksgiving weekend also was the occasion for another sponsored Kiddush; this time by Eliot and Phyllis Siskind in celebration of their son, Howard’s Bar Mitzvah anniversary, and Joyce Ani as she marked the one year anniversary of her husband, Maurice’sz’l, passing – we are grateful for their sharing these occasions with a Kiddush that the congregation could enjoy.
Now a quick update on our property across the street that is back on the market. The sale fell through due to the builder being unable to overcome all the logistical obstacles in a profitable-enough position. We hope for a new buyer in the near future.
Everyone should be aware that we have two upcoming synagogue-sponsored events in addition to our regular educational and social items. On December 3rd, CKI is sponsoring a kiddush in honor of the tremendous service provided by our employees and all they continue to do for us. This is our chance to show our appreciation. Also, on December 25th we will celebrate the 5th day and 6th night of Chanukah at CKI with a dinner and program; and, of course, candle lighting - a truly wonderful way to spend the holiday (flyer is enclosed). Also for the holiday season, we are a collection point for the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” program and for the local SPCA collection program -- please see the enclosed flyer for how you can make a difference by contributing to these important programs. Have a wonderful and beautiful Annapolis December.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith, President __________________________________________________________ Message from November 2011
October has been an incredible month –busy with the holidays, work around the synagogue, work around the house (at least ours), and preparations for the upcoming, guaranteed to be spectacular A Night to Remember honoring our Shirley Aronson. And I just started a new, incredibly hectic job in Crystal City, Virginia. So, things are a little crazy right now.
But, things are also fantastic – the holidays were exemplary. We had excellent attendance, creative changes and additions by the Rabbi/Chazzan, warm additions and assistance by the guest Cantor, Paul Freedman. All enjoyed our dedicated, spiritual, uplifting choir (forgive me for being biased since I’m part of the choir), and just a wonderful atmosphere surrounding our friendly CKI community. In the middle of this was the treat of Rabbi and Miriam’s son, Natan’s Bar Mitzvah – having it in the midst of all the festivities just elevated everything to a new height.
And now we have a truly memorable and generous celebration at the end of the month (October 29th) with the Kiddush sponsored by the “over 90s” – an idea thought up and led by Rita Cohen. One of the kindest things members (or nonmembers) can do is sponsor kiddushim on Shabbat or the holidays. Those of us who made it to Schemini Atzeret,Simchat Torah and the Shabbat immediately following were treated to kiddushim provided by Henya Storch – that was an unexpected string of treats and greatly appreciated.
We are starting up junior congregation again, as the Rabbi noted, and we are looking forward to children coming (with the parents). Junior (and adult) congregation is from 10:30 to 11:30 AM – adult congregation starts earlier – but if you can only come 10:30 to 11:30, that would be great.
Just a quick note on the Yom Kippur appeal – it appears many of you were quite generous which will enable some critical and immediate repairs (waterproofing, electrical, roof, etc., etc.). Thank you to all pledged to help ensure that CKI will be around for future generations.
Looking forward to seeing everyone next Shabbat at our special Night to Remember!
J. D. (Jody Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from October 2011
September became a month of celebration – quiet celebration, but celebration nonetheless. Our kitchen committee did an absolutely superb job as the celebrations happened one after another with wonderful Shabbat kiddushim. First, the Zimmermans started with a celebration of their special birthdays (take the year the Civil War started, subtract 1700, add 1, divide by 2)! I understand it was terrific in every which way (Amira and I were at my niece’s wedding – so we unfortunately missed that one). The next week was a wonderful celebration of the semi-centennial (i.e. the 50th anniversary) of Mark Goldberg’s Bar Mitzvah. It was wonderful to hear Mark chant his haftorah, his and Joy’s son, Elliot chant the Torah partia, and especially to hear Mark tie the past to the present. Did I say the food was again, terrific?
On Shabbat of September 17th, there was a mixture of emotions: Helen and David Cohen sponsored the Kiddush marking the end of sheloshim (30 days) of Helen’s sister’s leaving this good earth very prematurely. Hopefully, the marking of this occasion with the congregation helped them during this very tough time of remembering their beloved Joelle Lewandowski z”l.
Lastly, on the 24th, several members sponsored a kiddush celebrating Bruce Friedman’s recovery from his long sickness this summer. Obviously, we’re relieved whenever a congregant recovers from an illness, surgery or any misfortune. But, with Bruce’s case, our resident shamas, having him recover gave us a collective sense of relief – if we’re selfish, so be it – at least we celebrated with a tremendous kiddush with Bruce, his wife, Emiko, and other family members!
September has also been an intense month for us at CKI. We are still trying to ensure all impacts to our building are remedied from the construction of Aleph Bet Jewish Day School; that is no small task for staff and volunteers at both CKI and ABJDS. One great benefit will be with the replanting of the gardens on October 2nd – hope many of you can come and help!
This has also been a month of trials and tribulations in the area of maintenance for the Building and Grounds (more commonly called the House) Committee. We have had numerous electrical, plumbing, and HVAC system problems in addition to a crazy number of water issues due to the storms. Our building may be aesthetically wonderful in many ways – but it is definitely a maintenance challenge in multiple dimensions. Nevertheless, the positives outweigh the negatives by so much at CKI that it is difficult to be anything but optimistic for 5772 and the years to come.
May you and yours have a prosperous and healthy New Year and 5772!
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from September 2011
September is the month of summer winding down, planning for the rest of the year, and, of course, football. Being a fan (Go Ravens! Sorry Redskins fans), I always get excited as the season gets into full swing. Of course with football come the high holidays and I can assure you many preparations are under way to ensure your experience is as positive and meaningful as possible as we usher in the year 5772. Hopefully you have already taken care of your seat reservations, New Years Greeting in the Kolenu (in this issue!) and Yitzkor book citations. Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks at what are hopefully the most spiritual and uplifting services in the area – we certainly try.
On August 26th a wonderful crowd enjoyed feting the Annapolis Police and Fire Departments by honoring the Chiefs, Michael A. Pristoop and David L. Stokes, Sr., respectively. As always, the food was tremendous, gathering was fun, and occasion was tremendous. Certainly the Chiefs enjoyed and appreciated the gesture from one of their long-standing institutions under their jurisdiction.
When you get this Koleinu, school will already be in session. That means our expanded Nursery School and extended day care are fully operational and moving forward providing the wonderful service that so many rely upon. The big news is, of course, the new building housing the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School. The construction has been long and, in many respects, tough on our congregation – but the final product for both the school and our congregation is only positive. The construction is a wonderful event for Aleph Bet, for the community, and for the congregation. Thank you to all congregants who have done their utmost to make the process as smooth as possible during a challenging period. May Aleph Bet thrive in the future, and in doing so help the entire Jewish community grow to greater heights.
Lastly, as all of you know, we have our Bingo program every Wednesday evening. This is an important source of operating income for us. There is a core group of volunteers who have been doing the brunt of the work. A simple contribution of two hours a month will go a long way towards easing the burden on all volunteers – please call Lore Singerman and make that simple, easy commitment.
Thank you for all you do to make Congregation Kneseth Israel what it is. Wishing you and yours a sweet, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
Jody Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from August 2011
Once again, the Rabbi Morris and Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture on July 10th was an inspiration. We should not be surprised since the event is typically educational, entertaining and memorable. Jason and Gary Rosenblatt did a marvelous job arranging for the speakers and the committee, as always (this time chaired by new grandmother, Cheryl Morgan) coordinated a delicious continental breakfast and supporting structure for this event.
The speaker was Dr. Erica Brown who set a wonderful, light tone in the beginning of her talk by noting “Call me Erica, not Dr. Brown – that’s a soda.” She spoke of the important qualities that leaders in a community must possess such as integrity, civility, warmth, and vision; not an easy combination to master but one your synagogue leaders do try to demonstrate by how we exercise our responsibilities. Erica brought up a very interesting point about the synagogue’s congregants who should be thought of as stakeholders rather than customers. This resonated with me for it expressed the importance of congregants realizing they have a role to play in the success, expansion, and improvement of everything in our synagogue. If a congregant does not participate at all but just waits to react, like looking for a sales brochure from the store, they are not helping to make things better. All of us can serve as stakeholders by offering constructive advice, helping with committees, working with the Sisterhood, helping the stressed staff at Bingo (please call Lore Singerman to give a couple hours a month), or offering funds when asked – or, even better, when not asked.
In August we are doing something different. We are thanking the police and fire departments by honoring their respective chiefs at a Shabbat dinner on August 26th at 6:30 PM. If you are not aware of how much these departments support us, please accept my word that they are integrally involved with our safety and security, and very helpful in all respects. To add to the festivities, we will have the Mayor of Annapolis, Joshua Cohen, speak that evening. Bob Weigert is once again leading the executive kitchen crew – so you know the food will be wonderful. All of us are stakeholders in our synagogue and our community and hopefully all of you can join us at this important event.
Lastly, the High Holy Days are approaching. You should not be surprised to see various requests for solicitations: seats, New Years greetings, yitzkor book, aliyot, the annual Yom Kippur appeal. Some think this synagogue runs on a well of funds; guess what? We are the well, and sometimes we get dangerously close to running dry. Your Board does the best it can to run a top quality institution with top quality staff. Understand this takes funding, much of which we receive from all of us congregants.
Enjoy the rest of this wonderful summer and looking forward to seeing you at our congregational dinner and Shabbat services.
Jody Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from July 2011
You probably think that during the summer things slow down at CKI. They don’t. We had a fantastic Father’s Day Shabbat dinner on June 17th where we were entertained by our own Barry Strumpf telling us how he went from being a senior US Senate staffer to a CBS and Fox Sports analyst and now a GWU instructor – the laughter just went on and on. In July we’ll enjoy the Rabbi Morris and Esther Rosenblatt lecture and in August we’ll have a Shabbat dinner, honoring the Chiefs of the Annapolis Police and Fire Departments, representing the service we have enjoyed from their departments for so many years. We hope you can join us for these events.
One area that has not slowed down at all is the work of your dedicated Board of Governors. The Board continues to govern conscientiously as do many of the committees that have been recently appointed. One that has completed their work is the ad hoc Membership Committee which produced a voluminous report which the Board is starting to implement. The Website Committee has almost completed their work and we hope to soon award a contract for website redesign. This critical modernization for CKI will occur through the generous donations of some individual members. The Capital Improvements Committee is tackling the difficult tasks of determining how to undergo major renovations. So, although the hot, lazy summer may have started, there is nothing lazy about the Board’s activities.
Have a healthy and enjoyable summer. Hope to see many of you in services and at our worthwhile and interesting activities.
Jody Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from June 2011 The month of May was so wonderfully busy with one great occasion after another, that I need to proudly mention them quickly. I happened to participate in the events and can thereby personally attest that all were well worth the time. On May 1st, in honor of Yom HaShoah, we heard Rubin Sztajer, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, living now north of Baltimore, who told of his harrowing, eye-opening history. We then heard poetry written by Holocaust victims, read beautifully by six members of the local Jewish youth groups. The next Shabbat, in honor of Israeli Independence Day, we had the privilege of hosting Galit Baram of the Israeli embassy who told us the inside story of some of the latest developments – she treated us like family, and we treated her like our own, for which she was quite grateful. The next day about 40 of us took a wonderful trip to the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Personally, I have been to dozens, probably hundreds of museums of all types – this one is nothing short of fantastic and well worth the trip. Plus it was a beautiful day on Independence Mall. Lastly, on Sunday, the 22nd, the synagogue sponsored a wonderful Lag B’Omer picnic hosted at the Weigerts in Davidsonville – a wonderful celebration that began with an educational but wonderfully entertaining sermon the day before by the Rabbi at Shabbat services.
We have the good fortune of being in a community of excellent synagogues -- we can add the Naval Academy and Chabad to the mix to, if you would like. Regardless, this community is blessed with tremendous Jewish resources. What is important to know is what we offer at CKI that is different from these other resources and why you should be proud to be a member (or should want to be a member if you’re not) of CKI. We are the only synagogue in the community which offers services for every holiday (major and minor). We always have a minyan on these holidays. We have Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on Saturday Shabbat services. We’re the only synagogue with a daily minyan and therefore happily welcome members of other congregations who come to us for this service. We offer adult education, Hebrew/nursery schools, educational lectures, guest lectures, and numerous other programs. All of this is so reasonably priced or free that the Board of Governors has to constantly watch every penny we spend. Are we good – no, we’re great. So far I have just been talking about the present; as to history, Jewish life in the greater Annapolis area has always been enhanced and will continue to be so by the actions of CKI. It cannot be overstated what CKI has meant to Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and the Naval Academy midshipmen for over 100 years.
I am extremely proud to be a Jew and affiliated with Congregation Kneseth Israel as you should be, too.
Jody Goldsmith __________________________________________________________ Message from May 2011 While turmoil swirls around the world, we can be grateful that life appears calm around us – or does it? We have numerous committees working to determine how to continuously improve all facets of CKI as we enhance our integral role in the Jewish community. We have programs coming to educate, remind, reform, revise, and revitalize our way of thinking. We have extensive construction outside our doorstep as the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School rapidly takes shape. Fortunately, the commotion immediately surrounding us is all very positive.
The month of May brings Yom HaShoah which we are commemorating with a wonderful program on Sunday, May 1st at 4 PM. Mr. Rubin Sztajer, born in Klobuck, Poland, will speak and remind us of why we must always zachor (remember) the not-so-distant past so it is not repeated. Members of two of the local youth groups will also be participating. One week later, on Mother’s Day, the CKI Hebrew School is sponsoring a trip to the new National Museum of Jewish History in Philadelphia. The day before, during Shabbat services, we are having a speaker (Ms. Galit Baram) from the Israeli embassy in honor of Israeli Independence Day. Then we have the superb lecture series by the Rabbi and other activities too many to name.
Looking back for a minute, we do need to thank all involved with coordination, preparation and conduct of the CKI seder. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at our wonderful activities sponsored by your synagogue. Please remember that our success is multiplied by your participation. Thank you for your support.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith
__________________________________________________________ Message from April 2011 We are leaving a month of some glorious activities that were available to all of us. If you attended made some or all of these occasions, I have no doubt that you’ll agree with me. First there was Eric Janowitz’s Bar Mitzvah, a chance to celebrate with a wonderful family who contributes significantly to the synagogue’s benefit as their third child and only son/brother moves forward to manhood. It was a wonderful service with a superb Kiddush following.
Second was the Cabaret, an extravaganza of good eats, good music, good dancing, and good auction. Lynn Reiter Kay and her committee just outdid themselves making a wonderful, warm, fun evening. Amira and I could not stop discussing how great a time we had at this evening of fantastic fun resulting from hard work.
Third, of course, was Purim. Magnificent (and rapid) chanting by the Rabbi, hilarious/beautiful/majestic costumes, fantastic food, grand singing rendition by the Hebrew School, etc., etc.; a holiday to remember. Thank you all who helped make Purim the great time it was. We won’t even go into the usual abundance of lectures and classes from the last month.
A couple of additional notes. If you enjoy photography, we would appreciate you practicing your hobby/trade at any of our events and passing them on to us. We would like to display all the great things we do, but need pictures to do it. Thank you in advance for your willingness to share and help. Second, this synagogue operates primarily through the hard work and sweat of volunteers. Occasionally you may not be real happy with something one of our volunteers does – please remember the critical word – volunteer. If you want to complain, tell me and I’ll see if I can do something about it, especially if you offer a solution. But remember, the best way to fix a problem is to be part of the solution and volunteer yourself.
Thank you for everything you do to make us what we are – the shining light of Judaism for the community. Shalom
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith ____________________________________________ Message from March 2011
March is when we are thrilled to see the leaves start coming and buds blooming, and the kids playing and everything around us seeming to be reborn. Likewise, we are on the quest of rebirth at CKI as we move forward on the four initiatives mentioned last month. We are well on our way with the first step of establishing the committees. If you have a keen interest in capital improvements, long-term funding, membership, and/or the revitalizing of the website, give me a call and I will be happy to discuss with you the goals of the committees. Then you can decide if you would like to be part of that action. Fear not – there are many other opportunities to help your synagogue be reborn and be the best it can be. If you have any question about a rebirth, just look at our budding neighbor, the building of the new Aleph Bet Jewish Day School. Its building is a wonderful achievement for the Jewish community with a tremendous number of Aleph Bet leaders/builders coming from our Kneseth Israel.
So this is the month of new excitement. We finished February with a wonderful baby naming and going forward into the celebration of the Cabaret on Saturday night, March 12th. We will be celebrating Purim the next week, March 19th and 20th, another holiday of rebirth. Then we have coming right around the corner Passover and the second Seder at CKI which is guaranteed to be the best ever. Enjoy everything that CKI brings you. Enjoy being a member of this historical, forward-looking institution.
Thank you and Shalom.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith
________________________________________________________ Message from February 2011
I am both honored and humbled to be elected your President. But, I am also eager though anxious and let me tell you why. In order for our synagogue to continue as the leader in this Jewish community, I see us needing to pursue four initiatives:
· fund-raising as a long-term concern to ensure operational funding can continue without desperate moves,
· planning for capital improvements that must be made to be a congregation of the future, not just one proud of its past,
· a renovation and upgrading of our website to properly portray our congregation as a modern and traditional Jewish establishment of Annapolis, and finally
· a major push for new members who will see CKI as substantial “value added” to their lives.
These initiatives are aligned with us voting at our annual Congregational Meeting for the future rather than to only look back – we have voted to move forward to lead as a progressive, traditional synagogue.
We are fortunate that our immediate past President, Lore Singerman has repeatedly noted she is here to continue to help and for that we should all be grateful. Her experience and knowledge is invaluable and her devotion is irreplaceable. The Board, individuals who have stepped forward to help guide, lead, and manage the synagogue are truly my and your most valuable asset. But, most importantly I need you, the congregants to support me as I step forward on this critical role, following tremendous history but ready to make history of our own that we will all look back upon with pride.
Thank you and Shalom.
J. D. (Jody) Goldsmith
__________________________________________________________ Message from January 2011
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011, a year of contentment, and may peace reign throughout the world.
The present Bylaws were discussed extensively by the Board and as a result of the review certain changes have been recommended. The proposed changes follow. Please read them carefully as we will vote on them at the annual meeting January 23, 2011
Proposed change #1: Article IV (Board of Governors), paragraph 1 reads:
The Board of Governors shall consist of 18members in good standing elected by the membership, the Rabbi and the President of Sisterhood.
This paragraph should be changed (change in red) to read:
The Board of Governors shall consist of 15members in good standing elected by the membership, the Rabbi and the President of Sisterhood.
Justification: The Board was large presuming an ever-expanding membership. Although we are certainly doing everything in our power to make that expansion happen, it is a long-term project taking some time. Fifteen members (plus the Rabbi and Sisterhood President) represent more than 5% of the membership, a reasonable figure for an organization our size. The smaller size will enhance productivity, discussion interaction, and prestige of membership.
Proposed change #2: Article IV (Board of Governors), paragraph 2 reads:
No husband and wife may serve together on the Board concurrently except the husband of the President of the Sisterhood.
This paragraph should be eliminated.
Justification: There is no reason a husband and wife should not both serve on the Board if both are willing to do the required work. The reasoning behind the original phrasing is the assumption that the couple would always vote alike as a team – such lack of independent thinking is constantly shown not to be the case among our community leaders and would not be an issue with this Board.
Proposed change #3: Article VI (Meetings), paragraph D1 reads:
The Board of Governors shall meet at least once per month on a date specified by the President, unless the Board decides otherwise. Eleven members shall constitute a quorum.
This paragraph should be changed (change in red) to read:
The Board of Governors shall meet at least once per month on a date specified by the President, unless the Board decides otherwise. A majority of the currently filled Board seats shall constitute a quorum.
Justification: This ensures that the quorum size will be a number determined by the authorized Board size, not a number that must be changed separate from the Board size.
Proposed change #4: Article VII (Committees), paragraph A1 lists several committees that are inactive or redundant and not explained in paragraph B and should be removed from the list. The ones that should be removed (and the lettering adjusted as appropriate) are:
g. Hebrew School
k. Jewish Welfare Board
The Program Committee should be added to the list in paragraph A1 and should be moved in paragraph B to follow The Religious Committee, rather than the Nominating Committee.
Many thanks to; Betty Goldstein, Marilyn Halpern and Maxine Silber for covering the office during Jeanne Smit's absence. I would also like to thank Cathy Davidson and all the dedicated volunteers at Bingo. For fear of inadvertently omitting a name I am not listing them.
To those in a warmer locale we hope you are well and enjoying yourself.
To all who are ill we wish you a Refuah Sh'lemiah.