President’s Message June July 2014


It is hard to believe that June is here.  This has always been a special month for me.  Not only does it signal the end of another school year, but it is also the month of my birth, and my mother’s, and nephew, and even brother-in-law.  June also signals the approach of the half-way point in my first term as President of TBE, so I would like to update you on the progress being made toward achieving my three top goals that I announced in January:

1. Complete the Sanctuary renovation.  
We are back in the Sanctuary, even though the renovation has not been completed.  Chairs have been ordered and hopefully will be in place before I write my next message for the Chai Lights.  In the meantime, we will be replacing the temporary “old” banquet chairs with “new” banquet chairs which actually have padded seats and should improve your comfort, so come in for an upcoming service and try one on for size.  The Tree of Life has been moved a couple of feet over to accommodate the handrails for the new ramp.  New carpet has been laid, fresh paint has been applied, new energy efficient lighting has been installed, and the sound system has been improved.  We are also in the final stages of ordering new storage cabinets and bimah furniture.  It has been a very long project, but we wanted to do this to the best of our abilities for our members to enjoy and worship in comfort and safety.

2. Maintain Rabbi Singer’s status as our full-time Rabbi.
July begins the third and final year of the Rabbi’s Circle campaign in which a small group of donors stepped up to the plate to provide funding which allowed our Rabbi to move from part-time to full-time paid status.  In order to maintain this level of service, we needed to find a way to increase our annual revenues by more than $40,000.  In March we made significant progress toward this goal by forming a relationship with the L.A. Church of Christ.  For several years we have allowed a small church to use our facilities in exchange for a monthly donation.  However, their membership diminished and they found it necessary to end their agreement with us.  At about the same time another group had been using our Victoria Avenue neighbor’s facility but decided to leave when they split into several separate congregations.  One of these groups, the L.A. Church of Christ, approached us about using our facilities on Wednesday evenings, and Sunday afternoons.  Their requirements did not conflict with our needs, and an agreement was reached, with our Treasurer, Tim Beld conducting the negotiations.  One of the conditions of our agreement is that TBE programs have priority and we will notify the church whenever our facility will not be available for their use.  So far this arrangement has been working well, with TBE personnel on site when the church his here.  The Board receives regular briefings and if there are any concerns that need to be addressed.  We are cautiously optimistic that this is a mutually advantageous accommodation.  I would like to thank Tim Beld, Diane Eskritt, Daniel Mansfield, and Elise Haton for their work in helping to make this endeavor a success.  They too are menschen worth mentioning.

3. Increase involvement of our congregants in Temple activities.
2014 brings multiple opportunities for congregants to get involved in Temple activities.  After all, we are celebrating the Golden Anniversary of our Temple Beth El building!  On June 13th we are holding a special service to honor the first service conducted in our Sanctuary 50 years ago.  Joining us will be Congressman Mark Takano, Assemblyman Jose Medina, and Mayor Rusty Bailey.  On September 7th we will be holding a Jewish cultural fair, “Celebrate Jewish Riverside.”  Finally, on October 11th come and join us at Temple Beth El’s “Golden Anniversary Ball.”  Dust off that tux, here is an excuse to buy a new gown – “no speeches, no one being honored, just dinner, music, dancing and good, old-fashioned fun.”  A big todah rabah to Lyn Yarmoff, our Director of Fund Development, for all of her work in spearheading this important milestone.  It appears menschen run in the Yarmoff family.

Until next time, Shalom.
Jerry Sturmer