In the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles, the infamous Lili Von Shtupp belts out the show-stopper, I’m Tired. With only a few months left in my Presidency, I can relate to that. For sure, the last two years have been a high-energy, invigorating run. We have accomplished so much together. So let’s pause for a moment to reflect on what we have achieved together as a community, and what we need to do to move forward with replenished vigor.
I don’t know where to start on the accomplishments. Financially, we have had a successful Capital Campaign, which will create the endowment Shomrei never had, as well as provide funds for capital improvements and further marketing/development of the synagogue. This year we also had the largest Kol Nidre appeal (over $200,000), while at the same time moving to reduce expenses. We have also increased the diversity and meaningfulness of our religious services. Hineh Mah Tov, our twice monthly inter-generational family services, has attracted large numbers of congregants of all ages. Likewise, our traditional Shabbat services, healing services, Sunday minyan and alternative services have all been gathering places for those searching for a spiritually meaningful happening.
We have more programming than synagogues twice our size. MESH is a great example of our commitment to social justice, with teens, seniors and everyone in between cooking and serving meals to those less fortunate. Our twice a year hosting of families through the Interfaith Hospitality Network is another example. We also have programming to cater to every taste: Israeli Cinema Cafe, Shabbat Spotlight guest speakers program, the Shomrei Forum, Taste of Shabbat, Adult Education, various purely social events and many, many more.
Finally, I am very excited about our youth education programming. Heather Brown has brought renewed excitement and creativity to our Pre-School program, and created an open and inviting place for children and their parents to come and join our community. We look forward to our continuing relationship with Heather. Our search for a new head of our Hebrew School has created a great “buzz” that will involve parents of both Hebrew School and STOM (Shomrei Teenagers of Montclair) programs.
So, yes, we have added new members, attracted more money and increased the vitality of our community. We are also not sitting on our laurels: through our 2020 committee and our Board of Trustees, we are looking for new ideas and programs to grow even more.
Having said that, I still need one more push from you: more participation. First, please let your friends and neighbors know what a special place Shomrei is. The best way to grow is by “word of mouth”, and you are our best ambassadors. Second, any time you come to an event, service, class or program at Shomrei, invite a friend. We are a welcoming community, and the best way to show it is to invite people (including, but not limited to, new members) to join with us. Third, participate. This is our community, and the only way it works is if everyone gets out of his or her chair, steps forward and says, “Here I am.” You don’t have to do everything, but taking the lead on some things goes a long way to making Shomrei the community we all want, love and believe in. If you are unsure how to participate, just let me know your thoughts, and I will be happy to “make it happen” . . . and not feel tired at all.