October President’s Letter

I’ve been writing this monthly president’s column for a year now, as a way to provide members with a perspective on what’s happening at KI and to invite feedback and discussion. From what I hear from readers, the column is serving its purpose. Members tell me they feel informed about what’s going on and are more connected to the shul. A couple of the columns, including the one I wrote about the Jewish Community Study and how our campus addresses changing demographics and patterns of Jewish engagement, have been circulated to the wider community and helped get our story out.

Based on the feedback and comments, I’m planning to continue writing in 5778. The only change I’m making is to stop listing the topics of each of the prior columns in the introduction. Instead, I’ll ask you to visit the President’s letters page where older issues are archived.   As always, please let me know what you think –and what you’d like me to write about—by emailing president@congki.org or calling (617) 731-3182.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this year’s High Holidays. With the construction of our new campus there was no space for us at KI, and it was difficult to find an appropriate venue close by that was large enough to accommodate our two adult services and four children’s and family services. The solution was to hold services in two off-campus locations: Brookline High on Rosh Hashana Day 1 and Yom Kippur, when school was closed, and Temple Ohabei Shalom on Rosh Hashana Day 2, when that congregation does not make use of its main sanctuary. The logistics were complex but our professional staff and lay leaders, especially Jonathan Slutzman, Stephanie Berkowitz, and Larry Cohen, pulled it off with great aplomb.

Unfortunately, we did make an error with the typesetting for the Book of Remembrance that resulted in several family listings being dropped from the printed edition. I am truly sorry for this mistake and the distress that it has caused to people in the community. We are reaching out to the affected families to apologize individually and are printing a supplement in time for the next Yizkor service at the end of Sukkot.

We are looking for input as we plan next year’s services, back on our newly renovated campus. Please take a 5-minute High Holidays survey for adult services and/or youth services, or send your ideas to communications@congki.org.

As Rabbi Hamilton shared in his sermon, we are asking the community to rededicate itself to Tzedek, Chesed and Israel over the coming year. We have immediate opportunities in all three areas:

TZEDEK: KI is stepping forward to assist a Syrian refugee family that is striving to make a new home in Massachusetts. We will hold a training session with Jewish Family Services of Metrowest in the KI Library on Tuesday October 3 from 7:30- 9 pm.

CHESED: It’s time for KI to take a stronger role in ensuring that our community members are supported and remembered in their time of need. Join us in the KI Library on Sunday, October 15 from 9-11 am to get involved with the revitalized Chesed Committee. Candice Kiss (pictured left), our board member for Social Action and Chesed is leading both efforts. Feel free to contact her at socialaction@congki.org.

ISRAEL: Israel activities are ramping up as well. Board member Benj Raby will host an introduction to the Israel engagement initiative at his home in Newton (16 Country Club Road) on Sunday October 8 at 7:30 pm, which will focus on defining the agenda for the year. You can RSVP to rebar@channing.harvard.edu.

Construction and renovation of our campus continue apace. The building committee, led by Marc Plonskier is working hard to make the addition watertight by winter and to complete designs for the interior so that we can be ready to move back in before the next High Holidays. We’ll be celebrating our progress with a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sunday, October 8 from 11 am to 1 pm. Please join us!

Meanwhile, we’re charging ahead with the campus community model without waiting for the building construction to conclude.  For example, KI and 13 partners collaborated on the 20+ page fall 5778 Jewish learning guide, which lays out 52 different Jewish educational opportunities available to the community. I encourage you to pick up a copy or read it online, and to attend the Adult Learning Summit on October 22, where we will offer a taste of new and ongoing classes. As a second example, Congressman Joe Kennedy (pictured left) learned firsthand when he visited on Shabbat Shuva, that 384 Harvard Street is now the address for those who seek to reach the local Jewish community. We greeted him with a standing room crowd in Epstein auditorium, where KI was joined by Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Minyan Shaleym and Minyan Kol Rinah.

This year we have built 2 mid-sized sukkot at KI in order to accommodate everyone while the campus is under construction. One is in the courtyard between Epstein and the main sanctuary and the other is at the corner of Harvard and Williams Streets (pictured right).  There’s a great lineup of activities planned for every age and interest on Sukkot. (My favorite is Steak & Scotch in the sukkah on October 9.) Check out the Sukkot guide for details.

We have been heartened by the large number of new members joining KI this fall. Word is getting around about our innovative approach. VP Membership, Rosa Kramer Franck has been taking the lead on recruiting and welcoming new members. Send her a note membership@congki.org if you know of people who might want to join, or if you’d like to provide feedback.

Shana tova and Chag Sameach! Have a wonderful month!

David E. Williams

י״ב בתשרי ה׳תשע״ח (October 2, 2017)|Categories: archive, news, President's Letters|