President's Blog - 2017 Annual Meeting Remarks

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 12:00am -- Anonymous

Thank you to all who came out for the 2017 Annual Meeting! The meeting was informative and the outlook for our synagogue is sunny.

Though I edited my report a bit for the meeting, I want to share the full report with you here. Thank you for reading!

President’s Report

What a year it has been! Welcomes and farewells, celebrations and commemorations, honoring our tradition and embracing our future. As those who have gone before me on the agenda reported, IHC is strong and growing … our financial health is excellent and we are poised for a robust and dynamic future.

In July, we welcomed our new Director of Lifelong Learning Jed Filler, and his wife Lisa and children Aryeh and Eliana to the IHC family. A few months later we said good-bye to Lynda Goodman who retired after many years of loyal and dedicated service to IHC and in November, we welcomed our new Executive Director, Dan Silien, his wife Rachel and son Ryan into our IHC family. And on June 30 we’ll bid farewell to Cantor Janice Roger after 38 years and welcome her as Cantor Emerita on July 1.

And, speaking of cantor transition, the Cantor Transition Task Force chaired by Marc Katz was formed and began meeting even before last year’s annual meeting to define the qualities congregants desired in our new cantor. The task force created multiple ways for community members to provide input into the search process, including a congregational survey and focus groups. At its June 2016 meeting, board members participated in the first of a number of cantor search focus groups conducted with congregants of every age and stage, every background, experience, gender and level of participation.

After gathering and analyzing the information, the Transition Task Force split into two task forces: the Cantor Search Task Force and the New Cantor Welcome Transition Task Force. An application for a full-time cantor position was posted with the Joint Commission on Cantorial Placement, the Reform movement’s placement organization, in November. This filing was exclusive meaning we could not seek or accept applications outside the Reform movement process.

At the same time as the Transition Task Force began its work, a Cantor Celebration Task Force was formed, chaired by Marilyn Smith and Sonja Kantor, to create many different ways to fete Cantor Roger for her amazing 38 years of dedicated service to our community. And, by the way, the celebration continues on May 21 when Cantor Roger is honored at the Sisterhood Spring Meeting and Afternoon Tea (have you purchased your raffle tickets?) and on June 2 at Cantor’s Farewell Shabbat and family Shabbat Dinner.

And speaking of the cantor search, after conducting video interviews with a dozen candidates and inviting two to visit IHC, we did not yet find our bashert … the very best cantor for IHC. We recently withdrew from the exclusive Reform cantorial placement process and have filed applications with several non-denominational seminaries including both the Los Angeles and New York campuses of the Academy of Jewish Religion, and Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. While we are hopeful that we will receive some resumes from these seminaries, we are a bit out of the hiring season so are prepared to relaunch our search next fall right after the high holidays.

At the same time, we are developing a “Plan B” for the upcoming year, similar to what we did in the first year following Marcia Goldstein’s retirement when we did not find our Director of Lifelong Learning right away. We have lots of creative ideas and when we have finished fleshing the plan out, we will share the details with the all of you.

One element of Plan B I can share is the engagement of a High Holiday Cantor. After interviewing four outstanding candidates, we extended an offer to our #1 choice, Cantor Betsey Peters-Epstein, and she accepted! While we are still working out the details, Cantor Peters-Epstein will join us for a couple of Shabbats this summer, before she joins us on Erev Rosh Hashanah.

In November, we welcomed Jon and Susan Stein to celebrate our 160th anniversary with us, including a special Shabbat service, opportunities to learn with Rabbi Stein and a celebration gala at Goldman Union Camp Institute chaired by the remarkable Sonja Kantor and a committee of creative, hard-working volunteers. Through your generosity and that of many businesses that do business with IHC, we raised funds that allow us to pursue programming and opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. We thank you all very much.

We are nearing the end of the second year of participation in the Jewish community Life & Legacy program. This remarkable program encourages after-life gifts for Jewish organizations in central Indiana. In just two years, 507 letters of intent have been secured representing after-life gifts to participating organizations of over $24 million. To date at IHC, 43 letters have been signed, representing after-life gifts to IHC totaling over $2 million dollars. Thanks to your vision and generosity, we were awarded an incentive grant of $10,000 in 2016 and we are on target to receive an additional incentive grant of $10,000 this year too. We sincerely thank everyone who has signed a Letter of Intent. This program is continuing so it is not too late to consider why IHC is important to you and your family, and how you can support Jewish life at IHC for years to come.

Thank you to my colleagues and friends … members of our outstanding Board of Directors. Generous with time and treasure, wisdom and hard work, this group of volunteers has worked over the past 12 months to prepare IHC today for a strong and vibrant future. Together, we have addressed tomorrow’s challenges, not yesterday’s, striving to be proactive, not reactive. Last August, at our annual retreat, we did a deep dive into why and how IHC matters and, through this work, developed a compelling new mission statement and statements of what we believe. You can find the results of this work on your seat, on our website, on our letterhead and, going forward, in our ongoing programs and the new initiatives.

Nothing at IHC could happen without our incredible team of professionals. We are grateful for all you do to care for our Jewish souls and keep IHC running efficiently. It takes every member of the team to make a synagogue extraordinary and I echo Rabbi’s thank you to every member of our staff.

Thank you…

to our building professionals Ben, Brian and Leanor for caring for our beautiful spiritual home,
to our crack office staff Erni, Shirley, Barb and Susan for supporting our clergy and professional staff and keeping our members informed,
to Taryn and Angela and the teachers in our Early Childhood Center for teaching our youngest members,
to Jed, Lea, Debbi and the teachers and shlichim in our Religious School for taking our children from kindergarten to high school and preparing them to be knowledgeable and engaged Jewish adults,
to Evelyn for keeping the library in order and helping us stay Jewishly literate,
to Dan for jumping in with two feet on day one and partnering with Rabbi Brett to assure the smooth operation of our synagogue,
to Rabbi Scott for his passion, spirit and exuberance for Torah and our tradition,
to Cantor Roger for giving so much heart and soul to our community for so many years, and last, but far from least,
to Rabbi Brett for helping us think, feel, laugh, learn and sing with our Jewish souls.

Thank you to my hubby Roland who find the most delicious carry out for me on those nights when Temple meetings run late.

And for me, I am humbled by the honor and privilege of serving our beloved congregation. May we go from strength to strength together in the coming year and into the future. Ken yehi ratzon.

Patti Freeman Dorson