President’s Letter December 2017: Construction, Vision, Hanukkah plans

This is the 14th edition of my monthly president’s letter. Earlier editions are available on the President’s letters page. As always, please let me know what you think –and what you’d like me to write about—by emailing or calling (617) 731-3182.


Walking down Harvard Street (or flying over in a helicopter) you just can’t miss the beautiful new structure rising up next to the KI sanctuary (pictured top left). The new social hall, library, innovation center, classrooms, multi-purpose spaces and administrative offices represent the physical manifestation of the KI Next plan to make our campus more modern, welcoming, flexible, green and secure. As the construction crews move expeditiously to make the exterior of the

building weather-tight before winter sets in, building committee chair Marc Plonskier and his team (pictured bottom left: Marc Plonskier (4th from left) with design team Varda Koerner Lis, Bennie Ber, Leslie Saul, John Garrahan) are hard at work designing the interior configuration

and selecting the finishes to produce a facility that is simultaneously beautiful, functional and within our budget –no easy task!

The project continues to be on schedule, and we expect to move into the renovated sanctuary building and brand new building in time for the High Holidays in early September 2018.

Meanwhile, planning is underway to come out of the gate quickly and maximize the potential of the new campus. I’m working with KI leaders and campus partners to develop campus vision and mission statements, which will guide our strategy. Please share with me your feedback on the draft version of the vision, which expresses our long-term aspirations:

To unite and uplift the Jewish community of Greater Boston and serve as an example for Jewish communities everywhere.

I wrestled with this vision last week, and when Shabbat arrived, I realized it had been a very timely exercise. Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum was our guest at KI over the weekend (pictured right). She is the leader of Zion: An Eretz Yisraeli Community, which “aspires to bring together all of the voices that are found in Israel through the use of ancient and contemporary Israeli, Ashkenazi, Sefaradi, and Mizrahi musical traditions and liturgy,” fostering a “welcoming community that serves as a hub for innovation.” Members range from secular to ultra-Orthodox, a rarity in Israel or anywhere. She shared her inspiring vision and personal story –and the remarkable success of her community—with KI and campus partners at dinner Friday night and on Shabbat morning, setting an example for us and offering her friendship. KI awarded her the Third Commonwealth Prize as a change agent for the Jewish people, and presented her with a Chanukkiah. She, in turn, provided us with two Yads from Jerusalem for us to use as we read the Torah. It was a remarkable visit.

On the third Shabbat in November, we held a low key, but very popular and successful board game session at Kiddush. Around 1:15 pm, I counted thirty people of all ages, sitting at tables, playing games in the Epstein auditorium! It was a wonderful opportunity to relax, learn a new game, and get to know one another. Kiddush and Games will be back by popular demand this coming Shabbat, December 9. Hope to see you there.

As a father of teens, I’m very happy to welcome our new campus teen coordinator, Michal Adar (pictured left). She has already reached out to get to know teens one-on-one and held introductory meet-and-greet sessions for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. If you haven’t already, sign your teen up for the Hannukah event at the Museum of Fine Arts at 5:30 pm on December 13 by emailing

And speaking of Hannukah, there will be a whole host of KI and campus events. Plan ahead, since some, including the Glow-in-the-Dark Hanukkah Havdalah on December 9, and MenorahFest and Concert on December 17 require pre-registration.

As 2017 draws to a close, please consider a donation to the KI annual appeal, which you can make online at  The appeal supports our annual operating budget, enabling us to offer Kiddush on Shabbat morning, youth programming and community service opportunities, and pay the mundane but necessary ongoing expenses such as utilities and insurance. Our new VP for Development Peter Lefkowitz (pictured left) has done a great job of organizing the appeal, including letter writing, a phone-a-thon and face-to-face meetings, so please provide your financial support. It’s also a good time of year to take care of any outstanding KI Next campaign pledges and dues payments.

Have a wonderful month!

David E. Williams


ט״ז בכסלו ה׳תשע״ח (December 4, 2017)|Categories: archive, news, President's Letters|