By Vic Vercammen
Don’t forget to join all of us Sunday, June 5th at 10 a.m. at BHT for the Beth Hillel Temple Annual Meeting! This is an exciting time for our community, and I encourage everyone to come hear about our present accomplishments, and more importantly our path to the future. Also soon, a letter will go out to the congregation, informing everyone about Rabbi Feingold’s upcoming Sabbatical. The Sabbatical will take place from October 25, 2016 to January 24, 2017 and from June 1, 2017 to August 31, 2017. As discussed in my letter, the purpose of a Sabbatical is for self-renewal, enabling a rabbi to better serve the congregation when s/he returns. Rabbi Feingold will be taking classes, attending conferences and seminars and engaging in self-directed study during her Sabbatical. In the publication The Guidelines for Rabbinical-Congregational Relationships it is recommended that a rabbi receive a 6-month Sabbatical every seventh year. Rabbi Feingold’s last Sabbatical, which was also taken in two three-month segments, began in November of 2009.
In order to minimize disruption to the congregation, Rabbi has been working with the Sabbatical Planning Committee, and other Temple Committees to cover BHT needs. In addition to scheduling her upcoming Sabbatical in two three-month segments, one half of the Sabbatical will occur during the summer months, when activity at the Temple is less. Rabbi’s careful planning, the activities of the various Committees as well as the strong support of our entire BHT community should help to make her absence more manageable.
Past experience shows that Rabbi Feingold’s Sabbaticals have proven helpful to the congregation in building its lay leadership strength. I trust that the upcoming Sabbatical will likewise improve Beth Hillel and reinvigorate Rabbi Feingold as she begins her thirty-second year of service to our congregation this August.
For those that were not able to join our community on Sunday, March 20, commemorating our 90th Anniversary, you missed a powerful reminder of how the BHT community is “small but mighty” and truly represents “A House for All People”! Hearing from Rabbi Benjy Bar-Lev, Rabbi Monica (Meyer) Kleinman, and Rabbi Dan Selsberg as they described the special role BHT played in their unique journeys to become rabbis gave me new perspective on the congregation and its impact. Given that BHT has provided international inspiration (Canada counts!), I may have to rethink describing us as small!
During the celebration dinner and festivities, it also became clear that the 90 years BHT has enjoyed are due in no small part to the foresight of the founders and the continued support of BHT benefactors. As we enter our next 90 years, it was heartening to learn of the early success the “A House for All People” capital campaign has experienced. While we invest in ourselves, more importantly we invest in others – a true sense of community. I appreciate the energy and commitment the BHT family represents, how we support each other in times of joy and times of hardship. Here’s to the next 90 years, may we all share in the investment into the future and reap the blessings of our “not-so-small, but mighty” community.
As always, members are welcome to attend an LC meeting, dates are on the calendar but generally follow the second Tuesday of each month at 6:45 p.m. Come join us and share your thoughts on how we are doing. Thanks!
Vic Vercammen, President
Adapted from Rosh Hashanah 2015 remarks.
For those of you that were here last year, you remember the description of our small but mighty community here at Beth Hillel. So what has this industrious group been up to over this past year? Well, for those that have ever paused to observe an ant hill and the seemingly limitless energy of the colony – lots has been going on.
Most noticeable is the Member Commitment process, where we have worked hard to transparently describe the costs required to operate this wonderful community and in turn focus the membership discussions on a sense of belonging and of our values. As we have moved forward with this strategy, members have told us through words and deeds that this approach is appreciated. If you have not made your commitment, it would be very meaningful to do so during this holiday season.
For those that may not know, Lois Bruno, our former office administrator, had made the decision to leave in pursuit of other opportunities. While we treasure her 10 years with us, we wish her well and want to welcome Patti Lollar to our community as our temple assistant. Please introduce yourself to her if you have not yet. Thank you to the many volunteers that have been giving time and energy to the office during this transition, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to work through this transition.
We are pleased that our Rabbi has agreed to a new 10 year contract with our congregation which will support our community to Dena’s retirement. It is a great commitment she has made to us, and also allows time to plan for the next phase of Beth Hillel’s future.
Some of you may know that on June 29, 1925 the articles of incorporation were filed for Beth Hillel Congregation. That means we are marking our 90th year in the community, which says a lot about the spirit and commitment of Jews in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. To have such an energetic community here is great and is a credit to everyone here.
These are also the first HHD services using our new prayer books. Generous donations from many temple members have made them possible, but we still need some sets to be sponsored. Please be generous and sponsor a set or two. $54 will support a set and is a great way to memorialize a life event or remember a loved one.
Thank you also for considering donations in honor of the High Holy Days which help make these wonderful services possible as well as the opportunity to bring in Orit Perlman from Israel.
The new year is a natural time to account for the past year. Change is always upon us, and we have made great strides this year. May we continue on this path and strengthen our community further this coming year.