Serving the Jewish Community of Central New Jersey for Over a Century

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President’s Shalom Article – May, 2021

May 1, 2021

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S. Berman President Beth El Synagogue

Last May my Shalom article began with the words, “Well, here we are in Season 1, Episode 7, of COVID-19 House Arrest.” The reference to Episode 7 was the number of weeks since Beth El had closed to its usual indoor activities. By that count we would now be around Episode 59—but thankfully we’re not. With widespread vaccination and steadily dropping cases, we are steadily and deliberately moving toward the goal of a complete return to normal. The Reopening Task Force is doing its job. You will soon see some modest changes toward normal in how Shabbat services are conducted, and it is remarkable that at a recent Bar Mitzvah Shabbat service 83 socially distanced, masked, members and guests were in attendance. At this time—and we cannot say for sure —we are working toward accommodating many more people in the Sanctuary for the High Holidays. It is likely that there will still be constraints, but we are optimistic that a far more traditional experience will be provided as we welcome 5782, consistent with safety. Also, a small benefit of the pandemic—if there can be such a thing—is that it led us to install Live Stream, and its use will be a permanent addition at Beth El, not only for services but for other events as well.

Here’s some more good news. Thanks to some very heavy lifting by Board members Doug Harris and Ben Genek, Beth El has been approved for a mortgage refinance. We anticipate a May closing. This will enable us to undertake some major deferred maintenance projects and improvements, while at the same time significantly improving our cash flow. Win-win. Thank you, Doug and Ben! On the topic of thanking people, we thank Ann Granett for eight years of service spearheading the Life and Legacy program. Ann is going to take a well-deserved rest, and Marc Perlman and Sonia Kobrin will now be sharing Ann’s responsibilities. Thank you, Marc and Sonia, for stepping up. The General Membership Meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 23, on Zoom. The agenda includes review and approval of the annual budget and the slate of new Board of Trustees members. Our constitution requires that we do this, for which we need a quorum. Like last year, it will be a virtual quorum, and we will count the Zoom attendees who are signed in. You will receive instructions for logging in prior to the meeting. I will give a report on the state of Beth El, the VP’s will report on their areas of responsibility, and we will all answer your questions. The good news is that there is no bad news. Of particular interest will be the presentation of the Reopening Task Force. I look forward to seeing you virtually on May 23. Please attend.

—Skip Berman, President