President's Message


June 2012 Annual Report

Submitted by Howard L. Shapiro, President

It has been my pleasure to serve as your President for the past year.  It has been a year of change and much has happened to make Temple Anshe Amunim (TAA) a continuing force within our community… physically, culturally and as a religious institution.

Foremost in that effort has been our staff.  With Rabbi Josh as our religious leader, we have seen significant renewed interest in our Temple community and from the broader community.  He continues to inspire us with a diversity of Shabbat services, interesting educational opportunities for young and old and a renewed interest in Torah on Saturday mornings.

Keren Weiner, our Office Manager, has created an atmosphere of welcome and warmth to all who arrive at the Temple.  She is bringing new ideas to how we do our business and trying to improve operations, particularly through our publications and how the Temple is seen in the broader community.

Dave Wallace, our Facilities Manager, has created is a true “gift” to the Temple.  He is not only fulfilling his duties but is identifying ways to improve the building and to keep it operating effectively.  Dave is always willing to be there for us and to meet our needs.  He has done much to improve the appearance of the building.

Your Board of Trustees is also working to improve and grow TAA.  It is operating effectively and efficiently and those who participate, I believe, find it a worthwhile experience.  We have seen new vigor in many sectors of the organization which you will find in the Committee Reports that follow.  I’d like to mention some of those:

Ø  Social Action, under Marty Feit’s leadership we have been participating in Habitat for Humanity throughout the year; in addition, Joel & Sue Colker have been doing Soup Kitchen, preparing meals that are provided at the South Congregational Church; and, Phil Kaminstein with the aid of several members continues his coordination of Berkshire Bounty which picks up and delivers food to various locations in the Pittsfield area.

Ø  WRJ has a renewed spirit under Paula Pomerantz and the Caring Committee under Marjie Shulman’s direction is responding quickly and with assistance and concern for those in our community who need help, a sympathetic ear or sustenance. 

Ø  Deb Cole-Duffy continues with her Leadership Committee to meet the challenge of identifying those within the congregation who may serve on the Board or in an officer position. We continue to seek those who have an interest, so please step up!

Ø  June Waldman has taken the helm of the Worship Committee and, with her committee and Rabbi Josh, is looking at new ways to improve the religious experience at TAA.

Ø  Our Program Committee Chair, Alyce Bernstein is constantly looking for new ideas and opportunities to brighten our lives through a variety of Temple programs.  Alyce has more ideas than can be accomplished; in part, because we have not found people willing to step forward and take the lead on some of the events that could take place.  This is a simpler task than some believe.  We could do so much more if people would join with Alyce to be part of her team.

Ø  Our activities for youth are growing and so is the number of children participating in these activities.  Rachel Alemany’s Youth Group (Yachad) is having wonderful experiences throughout the year in both a junior and senior group.  Their participation in Temple is testament to Rachel’s work.  We will see the benefits of this with these young people’s continued involvement in Jewish life.

Ø  And Religious School has reached the point of having three program levels including high school, elementary and preschool.  Robyn Rosen, Chair, Rabbi Josh and Stephanie Bennett, Educational Coordinator have determined that with as many as 30 children participating we will need to add a Director of Education.  The Board has approved that position and I am pleased to announce that Esther Benari Altmann will join our staff in August of this year.

Ø  Judy Stolzberg, Nancy Gagnon and Suzy Chung Co-Chair our Membership Committee.  This is such an important and crucial function of our Temple.  It is an area that ensures our growth and our future.  This committee needs more people to serve as ambassadors and to work with the committee to identify and bring in new members, as well as to welcome new members who have joined.  Please come forward and join with our three co-chairs!

Ø  A special thank you to Marilyn Margolis and the Book Club who are the Library Committee and have taken on the task of reviewing all of the books that we have and considering replacements.  The committee would love to hear from anyone who has ideas on the types of books that they would like to see in our library.

Ø  Finance & Endowment have been in the good hands of Andy Hochberg and Arthur Henle, respectively.  Andy keeps a firm hold of our finances and with the help of the Board we do all we can to control our expenses.  However, our income is not keeping pace with our needs and we have become too dependent on our endowment to pick up the slack.  Three areas of income that need to improve include:

o   We need to improve our dues collections and increase the amount of dues by bringing in new members;

o   We need to increase donations to our Mitzvah Funds with contributions at times of special occasions, memorials, etc.;

o   We need to encourage those who can to support our Annual Appeal for additional funds;

o   We need new fundraising ideas to increase revenue; and finally,

o   We need people to think of TAA for a legacy gift that can improve and increase our endowment funds.

Yes, I am pleased with all that is being accomplished.  But we could be doing so much more.  This is a small congregation and because of that it takes more of us to participate if we are going to continue our success

I am delighted to be serving a second term as President.  I will need everyone to work with me in whatever way they can throughout the year.

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