EMJC Presidents' Summer Letter
As we look forward to a new year at the East Midwood Jewish Center, we are aware of a range of spiritual and fiscal challenges to the health and well being of our shul. Spiritually, we seek to solidify the daily minyanim so that prayers and kaddish can be said predictably and reliably at 7:30 in the morning and 7:30 in the evening. Shaharit, minha and ma'ariv are not elective for a conservative, egalitarian shul, and it behooves us as a congregation to set aside individually a portion of the week for davening. Recently, a letter was sent out to each of you asking for your commitment to a particular time slot (or slots) in which you would, by your regular attendance, act as an anchor around which a minyan could grow. We are gratified by the response, and you should know that, as this Bulletin goes to press, minyans were available every morning and evening during the week we called for congregational support. We trust and expect this to continue and grow. Because we had a minyan, we were recently able to share with Josh Farkas the first yahrzeit for his brother, Danny Farkas, a member of our EMJC family who perished in Afghanistan last year. It’s been said that prayer is the “choral symphony the covenantal people has sung to God across forty centuries.” Join us, and all who came before, and all who will come afterward, in this endeavor.
Among our other priorities are our efforts to ensure that all are welcome and no one is forgotten. This is more difficult to do than to say, and our attempts at outreach and bikkur cholim must continue. Our Talmud Torah, the central component of youth and family education that happens as part of “Room J” is striving to find new, contemporary approaches to engaging our young people in Jewish spiritual life. We aim to support its director, Audrey Korelstein, in her efforts. We also look forward to working with the parents of the East Midwood Hebrew Day School and encouraging their participation in our shul along with our encouraging and supporting their own success and growth.
No letter of this sort would be complete without some responsible accounting of the fiscal requirements our shul is facing. The stained glass windows and sanctuary dome need major repairs ($350,000). The upper slab of concrete in the courtyard between the day school and EMJC, along with the membrane between it and the lower slab, need to be replaced before the bottom slab is totally compromised ($200,000) or we’ll be hit with a truly astronomical repair bill. The damaged ceilings and walls in the rooms beneath this slab also need to be repaired so that these rooms, now uninhabitable, may be rendered usable ($50,000). Water damage and leakage on the sanctuary steps, as well as in front and underneath the foundations on either side of these steps must also be fixed ($150,000). The chillers that cool the main sanctuary need to be replaced ($50,000). The Regency Room badly needs a renovation so we can attract a greater number of celebrations and simchas and maybe even a caterer or two ($50,000). Shall we go on? We could, but the point has been made. We can no longer postpone these expenses, so what is to be done?
Just as with the daily minyanim, we believe that more can and must be asked of our membership even as we reach out to the wider community for much needed funds. Along these lines, we ask you to consider, in addition to promptly paying your membership dues, the extras mentioned below. We are not looking to create financial hardships for those experiencing economic difficulties in these troubled times, nor are we seeking to arouse excessive guilt or emotional torment in those who can’t manage an extra expense. We are looking for an extra commitment from those who can afford to do so, those who have the wherewithal to make the additional contribution, but either have never been asked to do so or who just never got around to doing it for any number of reasons. There are, for example, many blank gold leaves on the Tree of Life which adorns the south wall in our lobby. These can be imprinted with your name, or the name of one you wish to honor or remember. There are also available “Foundation Rocks” and “Builders Rocks” on the same wall that we ask you to consider. The cost for these items is as follows: Gold leaf: $600, Foundation Rock: $1000, Builders Rock: $5000. There are also siddurim without inside labels; these are available for dedication at $36.00 each. All donations above and beyond your membership dues, in whatever amounts you can afford, will be gratefully accepted and acknowledged.
Let us be strong and united together, driven by the same needs and desires for a more purposeful life, one lived more fully because shared among so many friends. We look forward to a great year, an exuberant year, our cup overflowing. Enjoy the summer.
- Larry Isaacson and Michael Sucher, EMJC Presidents