What’s New? Plenty!

Posted on September 2, 2017 by Jay Lavroff, President, 2017-2019

Shalom Chaverim! I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable summer, including some time to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle that dominates the bulk of the year. While we welcome the slower pace of June through August, life at Temple Beth-El is always a beehive of activity. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the new things you’ll encounter at temple beginning this fall.

To begin with, there is a new president of TBE, and it is with great pride and humility that I assume this role. It is a privilege to serve our community, and I look forward to working with everyone toward continued growth and success. I would like to again thank Robin Osman for her outstanding work as president, and to all of the past temple presidents for being outstanding mentors and role models. We are truly blessed to have had leaders whose unflagging dedication to our community has provided the finest example of how to discharge the duties of the office of president. I will do my best to continue that tradition.

This year we not only have new people in leadership positions, but a new form of governance by which to lead. The new constitution, the product of dedicated volunteers devoting countless hours drafting, revising and explaining in “town hall” meetings and elsewhere, took effect in June. Among the significant changes is the replacement of the former Executive Committee with an Oversight Committee, which is responsible for the day-today operations at the temple. In addition to the officers, the Oversight Committee includes five new counselors who will interface with committees to help facilitate the critically important work they do. In conjunction with the managerial work of the Oversight Committee, the Board of Trustees is responsible for temple governance under the new constitution. The board, which will now meet quarterly instead of monthly, will focus on “big picture” issues, including developing vision and strategy, preserving the temple’s mission, creating policy and financial stewardship.

This new rubric will take some getting used to, and I beg your patience and indulgence as we get our arms and heads around it. We have a truly outstanding group of smart, talented and motivated officers, counselors and trustees, and I have every confidence that our goal of more effective and efficient leadership will be realized.

So enough about the changing of the guard; what about worship? Yes, there is something new in our worship as well. The month of Elul, which this year coincided with August 23 on the secular calendar, ushers in the High Holy Days. On the first erev Shabbat of Elul, we began using Mishkan Halev: Prayers for S’lichot And the Month of Elul, a marvelous text published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. This siddur contains beautiful poetry and thought-provoking readings that help put us in the proper frame of mind for the Days of Awe.

Following the first service using this siddur, the comments were uniformly positive. A big thank you to Rabbi Gluck and Cantor Pincus for introducing Mishkan Halev into our religious observance.

And of course, the new year is nearly upon us! Rosh Hashanah will again arrive “right on time” (to quote my friend Ed Malberg) on the first of Tishrei. During services on Rosh Hashanah, the phrase hayom harat olam – this is the day of the world’s birth – is read or sung many times. The Talmud tells us that this is the day creation began, and scholars have opined that the “birthday of the world” refers to the anniversary of the entire universe and our acceptance of God’s dominion and judgment.

There is a great deal of “new” at Temple Beth-El to be excited about, and I hope that you share my enthusiasm and optimism for a wonderful future. May this New Year be truly sweet, and filled with peace, love, health and happiness.

L’shanah tovah tikateivu,

Jay Lavroff

Originally published in the September-October 2017 issue of the Shofar. For more, visit the Shofar archives.