It is an honor to be elected as co-president of EMJC with Randy Grossman for the next two years, but it is a serious challenge. Randy and I are now running a million-dollar corporation, located in an 89-year-old building which has numerous problems. Buildings age just as people do, and often a problem does not show itself for years, until all of a sudden there is a disaster – and disasters, by definitions are expensive. A million dollars may sound like a lot of money, but that just keeps us surviving from day to day. What we really need is $1.5 million or more in order to become better known, develop new programs, pay staff adequately, keep up with everyday maintenance expenses plus major capital improvements, and save for the future.
Our job is to raise the money to do all these things and promote East Midwood as a wonderful religious, social, educational and recreational center for all ages. That was the original purpose of EMJC when it was organized in 1924. We were one of the first “shuls with a pool,” and we are one of the last ones. The others were sold years ago to yeshivas and churches.
Since selling the Rabbi’s house in May, we have repaid debts and set up an endowment fund for the future. We are reviewing expenses and trying to increase our income from rents. But our primary goal has to be to recruit new members. The way to do that is to let people know all the things we have to offer: beautiful weekly and holiday services, the daily minyan (morning and evening), Shabbat dinners, imaginative children’s programs, lectures, concerts, sports, interfaith activities, social justice work, English-language classes, and visiting the sick. Also, we will offer new easier ways to pay dues so as to make it easier for young couples and others with limited incomes to join.
Because we are a religious organization, we do not have to pay taxes. But that does not mean we can give away our services, make everything free and spend more than we take in. Even rich schools like Harvard don’t do that!! We have to think like a business (a special kind of business), which means that if we hold an event, we must plan in advance to earn money from it or at least break even and not lose money. The only difference legally between a for profit and nonprofit is who gets the profit or the surplus. We don’t have owners, partners or stockholders. Any money earned goes in the EMJC accounts to enhance our work.
So far in 2013 16 wonderful people, long time friends of East Midwood, have passed away. As yet, they have not been replaced by new members. If this continues without year round and successful membership recruiting efforts and careful financial management, the day will come when there will no one left to support East Midwood. It will merely be a beautiful empty building, filled with ghosts of the past.
These are the things Randy and I worry about, as we get familiar with our new jobs as co-presidents. We will be announcing new events and new initiatives, but in the meantime, I ask you to invite your friends and neighbors to attend one of our regular services or a Shabbat dinner, a lunch and learn, and High Holiday services. If they have a yahrzeit, tell them we are open for saying kaddish every morning and evening. Invite your friends to get acquainted with EMJC. Our motto is EACH MEMBER GET A MEMBER. If you have ideas for fundraising events and ideas for promoting East Midwood to the larger world, let us know. Call or email us at the office (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) or stop in.