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I'm happy to say that we are living our vision...

06/30/2020 10:11:05 AM

Jun30

Greg Frost

Good evening. Tomorrow the synagogue begins a new fiscal year. Tonight, I would like to review the year that has passed.

At our last Annual Meeting, I told you about our synagogue’s new vision:

We are Congregation Har HaShem.

We create meaning in our lives…through Jewish practice.

We celebrate together and lift each other when we have fallen.
We are inspired to realize our human potential.
We work to make the world more just.

 

I’m happy to say that we are living this vision deeply as a congregation.

 

WE CELEBRATE TOGETHER AND LIFT EACH OTHER WHEN WE HAVE FALLEN

When COVID-19 reached Boulder, our staff, led by Executive Director Alan Halpern, transitioned HHS into a online community within days.

Shabbat services, havdalah, b'nai mitzvah, shiva minyanim, Torah study, even an online Seder: All were re-imagined with creativity, maintaining ritual and holiness, transformed into our living rooms. We make wherever we stand into sacred space. We are apart, but we are still together.

Every weekday since mid-March, congregants have gathered virtually through our HHS Connects program to check in, support one other, ask hard questions, learn, sing, and grow.

70 volunteers made over 1000 phone calls since mid-March, reaching out at least a few times to every member of HHS.

Our last hurrah before staying-at-home became the new reality was the Wicked good time of the Purim Shpiel. Holli Berman takes tremendous pride in creating moments like this throughout the year that bring us together and make us sing, laugh, cry, and celebrate.

At this year’s online Harmony + Hops, Jordana, Rich, Caroline and Leah gave amazing performances, we shared a drink together, and we exceeded the evening’s fundraising goal.

Rabbi Greene, Rabbi Gelfarb, and Holli regularly reach out to our congregants dealing with death, illness, divorce, domestic violence, aging parents, and being home bound.

No matter what, HHS is always there for you.

WE ARE INSPIRED TO REALIZE OUR HUMAN POTENTIAL

HHS continued to innovate in learning opportunities this year.

When COVID arrived, our educators connected with every school family and adapted HHS’s learning opportunities: morning online teaching for our elementary schoolers; individualized online Hebrew tutoring for pre-b’nai mitzvah students; virtual clubs for teens; and a week of summer day camp “to go.”

HHS’s educators are working on plans for next school year, with exciting pilots and new programs to accommodate innovative in-person and virtual learning.

During the shelter-in-place, school families participated in a scavenger hunt, trekking to Sinai in their own neighborhoods.

The teens of Boulder Temple Youth now hold 25% of the seats on the National Federation of Temple Youth’s regional board, and they participate in regional events at higher rates than any other synagogue.

Ethan, our new youth director, joined us with a URJ fellowship that allowed his part-time position to become full-time.

HHS welcomed a delegation of teens from Ramat HaNegev, our sister community in Israel, as well as that community’s spiritual leader, Rabbi David Barak Gorodesky.

On the adult education side, HHS hosted our first-ever visual artists, Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik, as Scholars in Residence.

HHS welcomed Rabbi Daniel Freedlander, Immediate Past President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, to speak about non-Orthodox Judaism outside of North America and Israel.

Daisy Saragoussi and Leah Boonin taught us fantastic Sephardic and Ashkenazic recipes.

Participants in Tikkun Middot tell us how much these courses improve their relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

Rabbi Gelfarb expanded Contemplative Shabbat services to twice a month. Her Zoom room remains open afterward for a virtual schmooze, which, as we all know, is an important Jewish ritual.

HHS’s Rosh Chodesh group has been going strong: 25 or more women in their 40s - 90s show up to sing, learn and even dance online.

Rabbis Greene and Gelfarb meet regularly with over a dozen conversion students who are exploring becoming part of the Jewish people.

HHS was one of a dozen congregations nationally receiving a grant to support the Scientists in Synagogues program, a year-long exploration of science and Judaism.

This year Katherine Schwartz, our Director of Lifelong Learning, began her term as the President of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.

WE WORK TO MAKE THE WORLD MORE JUST

 

I encourage you all to go to HHS’s web site and listen to Rabbi Greene’s recent sermon about George Floyd’s death and how we can become anti-racists. It brought me to tears.

Through the efforts of Roxanne Bailin, Alan Halpern and others, HHS has provided six graduates of Bridge House's Ready to Work program a home for over a year, giving critical support to these folks as they move from homelessness to being permanently sheltered.

Through Boulder’s Path to Home program, our congregants regularly help those who are still homeless. During the pandemic, HHS offered its South Building as an emergency overnight shelter for those who have none.

We feed the hungry through our ongoing participation in Community Table, and we provide vital supplies to those in need with our Thing of the Month appeals.

This year Becky O’Brien and Ghita Carroll formed the Green Team to share information, enthusiasm and support for environmental projects within and outside of the congregation.

Through the Bachrach family’s generous support, HHS hosted another Symposium on Spirituality and the Environment, whose inspiring speakers encourage us to step forward in a spiritually-based response to environmental stewardship, justice, and action.

The Climate Education & Action initiative engaged us in dialogs about communicating climate science, making food choices matter, and political advocacy.

Congregants like Yonatan Malin are speaking out about the urgent need for climate action and working to ensure that our elected leaders hear our cry.

HHS is helping Census 2020 to count those perennially missed in the census, like low-income folks, people of color, and the disabled.

HHS collects supplies for Casa de Paz, which offers housing, meals and emotional support to asylum seekers and families separated by immigrant detention.

WE CREATE MEANING IN OUR LIVES…THROUGH JEWISH PRACTICE

 

Throughout this year, you demonstrated your love and commitment to this community with your tzedakah.

 

HHS continued to enjoy million-dollar gifts from the Margolis family and an anonymous donor family.

 

All of you gave so generously this year, through your membership, with your annual campaign contributions, and to other appeals.

Legacy pledges increased again this year, as more of you included HHS in your estate plans.

When the economy went into its current downturn, some of you helped to financially support other congregants in crisis.

I want to extend my deep gratitude to you all: for what you give to our community; for your care and love for each other and our world; and for seeking learning, connection, and meaning at HHS.

This is the last time I’ll address you as the President of HHS. Serving our congregation these past six years as a board member and, the past two as President, has been sacred and fulfilling work.

Thank you to all my fellow lay leaders, especially to Board members past and present. You stepped up when called to serve, and I am so grateful to you all.

In particular, I want to thank Marianne Balin for her dedication and commitment to HHS. She will be an amazing President. Our synagogue is in very capable hands with these wonderful leaders.

Finally, I want to say thank you for what you all have given me. 18 years ago, you welcomed me, a non-Jew and a stranger, into this community. Because of you, I chose to become a Jew. You have given my life so much meaning, and I feel blessed by you all.

Thank you.

 
Mon, October 19 2020 1 Cheshvan 5781