August 31, 2012.
Dear Fellow Congregant,
As the summer concludes and we approach the High Holy Days, I wanted to update you on a number of recent developments at Holy Blossom.
As you know, a special congregational meeting was held on August 16. A large number of members turned out to express their concerns and ask questions about the retirement of Rabbi Moscowitz. Many voices were heard expressing a wide range of views. All who participated clearly share a deep commitment to our congregation’s future. We were all fortunate to hear a meaningful d’var torah from Rabbi Splansky at the start of the meeting which you can find at holyblossom.org/rabbisplansky. I gave a statement that reviewed the process leading to the Retirement Agreement with Rabbi Moscowitz and responded to questions that some members had raised in writing prior to the meeting. If you would like a copy of the statement, please email Shelly Berenbaum ([email protected]).
Our congregation has begun a period of transition which includes stages of healing, defining our direction for the future, searching for our new Senior Rabbi, and welcoming this rabbi into our community. At the meeting, our Vice-President, Earl Lipson, presented in detail the Rabbinic Transition Framework that we first shared with you in June. The Framework, which had the benefit of advice and support from the Union for Reform Judaism, is available at www.holyblossom.org/transitionframework. I am pleased to announce that Barry Campbell, a long-time member of the congregation and a former Member of Parliament has agreed to Chair the Rabbinic Transition Steering Committee that will oversee the implementation of the transition plan.
Another important element in developing the vision for our future is having the guidance and support of an experienced Transitional Rabbi. I am delighted to announce that Rabbi Arnie Sher, who moderated our recent congregational meeting, has agreed to serve Holy Blossom Temple as a Transitional Rabbi on a part time consulting basis. Many of you will have met him or heard him at the recent congregational meeting which he moderated. Rabbi Sher was the Director of Placement of the Central Conference of American Rabbis prior to his retirement and is highly regarded for his work and experience with rabbinic transitions and congregational human resources. Prior to his role with the CCAR, Rabbi Sher was the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel, in Bridgeport, Connecticut for twenty-two years and continues to serve as the Rabbi emeritus.
In addition to planning for our future, we are focused on serving the current needs of our congregation. To this end, we hope to hire an Adjunct Rabbi to supplement our wonderful team of Rabbis and Cantors in fulfilling our congregation’s ongoing needs. We look forward to introducing this Rabbi to the congregation shortly after the High Holy Days assuming we are successful in identifying a suitable candidate.
Work continues on other fronts as well. The success to date of this year’s Congregational Appeal is a clear sign of our members’ forward looking concern for our community. At the time of writing, the Appeal has surpassed $400,000 and is closing in on its target. The generous financial support of our community is tracking ahead of last year’s campaign at this time. My sincere thanks to all who have contributed to this success; your continued support and commitment is critical to the future of Holy Blossom Temple. I hope that those members who have not yet done so, will find a way to support this important campaign. You can either submit your pledge on-line at www.holyblossom.org/donate or by mail along with your membership renewal package or separately.
You have recently received this year’s Schwartz/Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning Program Guide. Our busy Fall calendar includes two particularly exciting events: the inaugural address by the new Consul General of Israel for Toronto and Western Canada, DJ Schneeweiss on Saturday September 6th and our season opening lecture by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union of Reform Judaism, on Thursday, September 13th, in his first appearance in Canada in his new role. I hope you will join us for these and the many other educational events described in the Program Guide. Please see the Program Guide or visit holyblossom.org for more information on all of our upcoming educational events.
The plans for renewal of our physical space, which we shared with the congregation in March have been further refined to allow a phased approach to construction that will allow us to begin the project sooner and remain on site during the construction period. We look forward to sharing more details on this in the coming months.
A new team of Officers and many new Board Members will be elected at our Annual General Meeting on Sunday, November 18, 2012. Please mark this date on your calendar.
Finally, we are pleased to confirm that Rabbi Moscowitz will be with us for the High Holy Days, leading services.
As we all settle back into our post-summer lives, and as Rosh Hashanah approaches, on behalf of the Board, I wish you and your families a healthy and happy Shana Tovah.
I look forward to seeing you in shul.
Mark S. Anshan