March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778
By Rob Perbohner
Thank you to Jack Fishman for the opportunity to fill in for the President’s Column in this issue. It is a busy time at MCJC as we continue to transition and evolve in the various areas we serve. I have analogized our congregation as resting on a three-legged stool. Each leg represents a crucial piece of our synagogue and community.
As announced by email to members, Rabbi Tom Samuels has been retained for continued Rabbinic leadership at MCJC. Rabbi Tom and MCJC agreed to a fixed two-year term with an additional two option years. This provides our community with continuity in spiritual leadership, and gives Rabbi Tom the ability to further shape our ritual experience.
Our Ritual Chair, Gene Lindow, has worked closely with Rabbi Tom and the full committee to continue to evolve our service structure and guide our religious experience. A number of new faces have joined the committee, and have contributed regularly to our services.
Our Hebrew School also has been evolving, as we have seen fewer students in the school. With retirements from some of our long-standing teachers, we operate with a leaner staff. Our teachers, working with the Rabbi, continue to fine tune our curriculum, and further refinements for next year are being considered after input from our parents. Our goal is to combine a challenging and rewarding experience along with assuring a strong Judaic knowledge in preparation for both their B’nai Mitzvah and adulthood.
We face the same challenges as other synagogues with secular commitments and activities conflicting with traditional Hebrew school requirements. Nevertheless, MCJC remains committed to educating our children in Jewish life and experience. One recent development is that Rabbi Tom is beginning a dedicated B’nai Mitzvah class for students in the 4th grade and above. This will both strengthen the bonds between the kids and their readiness to become Jewish adults.
Obviously, a key factor in the health of our synagogue is attracting and retaining members. As synagogues throughout our area vie for a smaller pool of Jewish families, our hope is that our unique approach to Jewish life and learning will continue to attract new members, while keeping our current members active.
Rabbi Tom has focused on enhancing the meaning and love of Judaism. His approach has caused us to stretch our learning, and also accept new perspectives and practices. Our hope is that this experience can be shared by more in our community.
We will soon introduce our new website, which will re-introduce MCJC to the world. This website, created by Leslie Cook with assistance from many, provides an avenue to better share who we are and what we offer. We will also focus on rejuvenating a formal membership committee to reach out and recruit potential members.
Finally, we are preparing for a major fundraiser in April which all members will be asked to support. We need your assistance to maintain our operations!
As this will be my last chance to speak to you in the newsletter before my term ends as Vice-President, I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve MCJC. Thanks to Jack for his strong and reasoned leadership over the last four years and also to the rest of our officers and Board Members. Our Board has faced some difficult issues, but each member has contributed to find solutions and keep MCJC strong.
In the coming months, we will need more of our members to volunteer for committee and leadership roles. We need you to take an active role in MCJC activities and programs. We have seen newer members step up and fill roles that others retired from after many years.
Our Operations Committee has done a spectacular job in handling events and day to day functions. Special thanks to Jill Purvin and Dara Turnball for taking leadership, along with Lea Grover. Further thanks to George Sachs, who has spent countless hours nursing our new boiler through a bumpy road. He has been our David with a Goliath of issues.
I look forward to seeing great achievements for our little synagogue. It has been the strength of our members and their continued support that has maintained our relevance for our members and our greater Jewish community. Let’s all resolve to support MCJC as a dynamic center for Jewish life, learning, and love in the greater McHenry County area.