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Minutes of the Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting December 12, 2018

1) Motion to approve minutes from the 5.16.18 Congregational Meeting passed unanimously. 

 

2) Chai Award. Mark Seidenfeld acknowledged and presented a certificate to members who have belonged to Beth El Synagogue Center for 18 years. Winners were Rhonda & Scott Afran, Robin Bronk & Richard Schechtman, Felice & Steve Brostoff, Jocelyn & Ronald Burton, Nancy & Sanjiv Chhahira, Rosalie Cohen, Claudia & Michael Felberg, Lawrence Getzler, Sy Gruza, Barbara Hyde & Sheldon Haber, John Morris, Goldi Newman, Hillary & Greg Portnoy, Arlene & Barry Salman, Emily Bromberg & Stephen Silverman, and Carla & Laurence Stein. Also, a special thank you to Ronnie Becker who has led our Nursery School for 18 years! She is fearless and passionate about our children and about Beth El. 

3) Nominating Committee. 3 Non-Trustees and 1 alternate are required to be on the Nominating Committee. The committee is tasked with putting forth slate of board members and officers to be elected in May. The following individuals were nominated: Lisa Mandelker, Susan Solow- Dubin, Jessica Berman, Janice DeMartini, and Bruce Gold. A secret ballot vote was held with Lisa Mandelker, Bruce Gold, and Susan Solow-Dubin elected as members and Jessica Berman elected as the alternate. 

4) President’s Report. Mark Seidenfeld reviewed the current status of Beth El Synagogue Center. We currently have 588 full time members which is only down 1 full time member (and down 1 sustaining member) since July. While still a decline, this is a dramatic deceleration from recent trend of down approximately 15 members per year and we need to continue our work to retain and grow membership. Over past 6 months lots has been happening: 250 children attended Beth El Summer Camp this year. Following camp, a SummerFest was held for Seniors. Outside of camp summer was still busy with programs such as Toddler Time, HavDairy, a visit from the Tzofim, and much more. High Holidays started with Sleichot programming that included a concert. The holiday experience was beautiful and our clergy came though once again. On a sad note, we witnessed the horror of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh. In the immediate aftermath 400 people from all walks and religions came to Beth El for a memorial service. Forces of hate will not stop us and we will not cower from antisemitism which is now a practical reality. Russ Fayer and Michael Dorfman of the Security Committee have worked to make sure our community is safe and we have fostered a close relationship with the New Rochelle Police Department. We have increased our security measures and continue to work on this as a top priority. Our nursery school continues to be a stellar program with an upward trend of students (70 students now, up from mid-40’s not too long ago). Religious school is having a great year. Our Teen engagement programming is evolving and our Limmud/Adult education program is working well.. The Open Beit Midrash won United Synagogue Gold Award for Adult Education. The Keruv Committee continues its important work. Rabbi Schuck hosted an important mental health program. Our annual Israel film series and Israeli wine tasting programs were also notable. The Israel Affairs Committee and Rabbi Schuck are looking at a trip to Israel for the congregation. With other groups in Westchester we helped resettle an Afghani refugee family in White Plains. Beth El has been an integral part of this, with a special call out to the leadership of Jeff Swartz. Thanks to all people that have helped. Casino Night and our first ever Comedy Night were huge successes. Sisterhood has been active as has the Men’s Club. The Journey team has finally completed its year of work. We are now moving to implementation and action. The recent “Boot Camp” program to kick off this next phase was attended by 75 people with lots of new prototype ideas. Over 350 people have been involved in the work of Journey – a huge thanks to the Planning Team that led this and devoted countless hours of hard work. Plans for the renovation of the sanctuary are moving along. Recall that this is funded through a generous matching donation of $500,000 from the Loewentheil family. The plans call for the pews to be replaced with movable chairs, extend the bima, put in a new skylight, and more – all while retaining the iconic elements of the existing sanctuary. The Board has approved plans and we are currently getting permits from the New Rochelle Building Department. The renovation should be complete by end of April, 2019. The daily minyan continues and is led by Cantor Aqua. We remain committed to 3 full time clergy and a Search Committee led by Rob Patchen and Lauren Friedman Bosworth is now underway. Looking for either a Rabbi or a Chazan. We have more to look forward to until we convene again. Upcoming highlights include the Bar Mitzvah of Nadav Schuck, the USY Kinus, the annual Gala, and more. Finally – a huge thanks to all the Beth El Staff.

5) Treasurer’s Report. Joe Wygoda reported on Beth El’s financial health. As always, the most important driver is membership, which currently at 588 Full Time members versus budget of 569- so coming in ahead of plan. Most resignations occur during the summer and High Holiday season, so the likelihood of significantly more losses over the remainder of the year is low. Religious school enrollment stands at 91 students (does not include teens), nursery school enrollment is at 70, day camp enrollment this summer was 269 (versus 251 last year). Surpassed one million-dollar mark in camp tuition for the first time. The fundraiser for the new siddur was supposed to happen this year but will be postponed until next year. The Gala raised $193K versus budget of $150K. The Kol Nidre appeal raised $245K versus budget of $240K. We only need to take $15K from our endowment to help make budget (this was less than expected). Most expenses came in in line with expectations with the notable exception of building maintenance and repair. Last year our maintenance supervisor Milton Sinclair retired and we had a 3-month overlap with his replacement, Pablo, who has subsequently left. We have now engaged a new facility supervisor Carlos Lopez who will start shortly. Other major expenses included repairs at the house at 68 Old Orchard, AC repairs at Beth El, heating, etc. We recently started using an outsourced supplier to clean the building. Ongoing maintenance issues include the hole in ceiling in Sanctuary which is a drain pipe corrosion issue. A/C in sanctuary also needs to be fixed or replaced in the spring. Overall, we stayed within budget, bolstered by camp and nursery school revenue. Q&A - Jayne Peister mentioned that the cleaners only coming during the weekdays is it possible to get them to come on the weekends as well? Joe noted that new internal hires to the maintenance staff will have cleaning on the weekends as part of their job requirements. Why did Endowment pay anything? Answer – the retirement expenses for Rabbi Sirner need to be paid by the Endowment Fund. We have had higher Security expenses in last 2 months, but lower custodial expenses due to several open positions. Will be fully staffed up by end of the year. The new maintenance supervisor is coming in at a lower salary which will help with costs. Are there any major maintenance issues coming up? Yes, the air conditioning in the Sanctuary likely will need to be replaced and we are now waiting for quotes. Will likely be in the $100K-$150K range. How does hole in the roof tie into the Sanctuary renovation? It is likely only a $5K repair. But the Sanctuary roof does need to be replaced as it’s coming to the end of its life. Negotiating roof price now. The roof replacement is not covered by the donation for the Sanctuary. Any plans to work on the roof overhang near parking lot? We are keeping eye on it, but not on list of projects now. It is expensive to replace but not expensive to maintain. Where is the money for roof coming from? It will come from the Major Maintenance Fund which is part of annual dues. The new A/C plus Roof will likely be in the $200K range.

6) Motion to Adjourn by Avi Einzig, Seconded by Marjorie Seidenfeld.

Tue, September 17 2019 17 Elul 5779