President’s Remarks – 2018 Annual Meeting

Thank you for joining in the 2018 IHC Annual Meeting. What an incredible year we’ve had! The past year has been filled with exciting and positive change at IHC. IHC is strong and steady at a time when other synagogues around the country are shrinking, merging or closing. Our financial health is excellent and we stand on the precipice of a robust and dynamic future.

There have never been more choices for “doing Jewish” in greater Indianapolis … from Chabad to 6 synagogues with diverse affiliations … and yet so many families have chosen IHC as their Jewish community.

Let’s take a few moments to review this amazing year together.

After honoring and celebrating Cantor Emerita Roger in multiple, joyful ways, we embarked on Plan B for bringing music to prayer for the upcoming year. We asked the remarkable Tami Krichiver if she might share more of her time and beautiful voice with us and she agreed, continuing with Nefesh Shabbat and adding an additional Friday evening Shabbat service each month as well as Saturday morning Bar and Bat Mitzvah services. Cantor Betsey Peters-Epstein joined us as our High Holy Day cantor, introducing us to a new voice and new sounds, together with her soulful hazzanut.

As Rabbi Krichiver recovered from his back surgery last August, Rabbi Fox and Cantor Peters-Epstein embraced High Holy Day preparations, including the introduction of our beautiful new machzor, Mishkan Hanefesh. And Executive Director Dan Silien expertly executed his first High Holy Days, implementing changes in the ticket process and overseeing a myriad of details like the seasoned professional he is. When Rabbi Krichiver returned in good health, ready to assume leadership of the High Holy Days, our team came together and was whole, taking us flawlessly through the Days of Awe.

As soon as the holidays of Tishrei were behind us, Chair Marc Katz gathered the members of the Cantor Search Task Force to begin their work anew. The Task Force conducted interviews with about a dozen cantors via video conference and in person at the URJ Biennial Conference in Boston in early December, inviting two candidates to visit IHC. And still, we did not find our next cantor. As we began to contemplate Plan C, musical manna fell from the ACA placement process in the form of Cantor Aviva Marer. The task force knew right away Cantor Marer was special and, after a visit to IHC with her husband Jim, an offer was extended and accepted. We cannot wait to welcome Cantor Aviva when she joins Team IHC on July 2nd!

We are also delighted to report that Rabbi Fox has agreed to continue to bless our community with his joy, creativity and passion for living Jewish values for the next two years. Mazal tov to him and to Dori and mazal tov to us!

After the Federation voted to transition Hebrew education from the BJE to the synagogues, Director of Lifelong Learning Jed Filler and Rabbi Krichiver sprung into action. Jed organized and conducted a number of teacher and parent focus groups and began to imagine what Hebrew education might look like at IHC. Instead of duplicating the BJE curriculum, Jed, Rabbi Krichiver and the Hebrew education transition committee created a revolutionary program that will surely become a model for Hebrew education around the country.

Our new Jewish Learning Program begins in August 2018.  We will continue to offer our Judaics as well special classes.  And we are adding 4 new components, each designed with individual goals and desired outcomes that utilize and combine best practices from around the country all in one place and one program. Please stay tuned as we move forward with this exciting new endeavor.

This year, IHC took a delegation of 17 people to the URJ Biennial in Boston in early December. It was my fifth Biennial and my last with my dad, who inspired me to attend my first in 2007. I am so grateful that Big Irv was part of our wonderful group that included Rabbi Krichiver and Dan Silien and was able to reconnect with some amazing former IHC professionals from past years including Rabbi Bradd Boxman and Rabbi Marci Bloch.

This year has also seen exciting developments on the governance side. As we have already discussed, the IHC Board, in consultation with legal, decided that seeking a more balanced governance structure between IHC and the Foundation was a prudent course of action.

In addition to the by-laws revisions and though the entry was made in a prior year, I am pleased to report that the unrestricted bequest from the Estate of Mrs. Marian Kochman was placed into the Temple operating fund allowing it to be fully funded for the first time in many years.

And this year, the option to purchase the north side cemetery property was assigned to a third party who had received preliminary indications of a favorable zoning outcome. It appears, however, that the zoning authorities have very recently changed course and therefore, we will continue exploring options for the sale of this property.

Thank you to my colleagues and friends … members of our outstanding Board of Directors. Generous with their time and treasure, wisdom and hard work, this dedicated group of volunteers has worked tirelessly over the past twelve 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 ended with the question, “What would you do at IHC if money were no object?” Just to give you a sense of the passion and commitment of this extraordinary group, the answers included:

Rebuild outdoor chapel
Staff up to the correct number of staff members for the size of our congregation with necessary competencies
Visual tefillah
A cultural arts festival
Additional scholarships and increased financial support for Jewish overnight camp and trips

I am very excited to be handing the gavel to my friend, recently former legal colleague and non-profit volunteering partner, Marc Katz. When he is not practicing law, Marc has served as international president of AEPi fraternity and its foundation, Chairman of Classical Music Indy and as President of the Fraternity and Sorority PAC. Marc just returned from attending the URJ’s Scheidt Seminar for synagogue presidents and presidents-elect and excited to bring all that he learned to our community. I know IHC will be in good hands going forward.

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.

Thank you…

  • to our building professionals for caring for our beautiful spiritual home,
  • to our busy office staff for supporting our clergy and professional staff and keeping our members informed,
  • to Taryn and the teachers in our Early Childhood Center for inspiring 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 your patience, your unflappable nature, your good judgment, your wisdom and your partnership with Rabbi Brett and me to assure the smooth operation of our synagogue,
  • to Rabbi Scott for your passion, spirit and exuberance for Torah, our tradition and perfecting this broken world, and
  • to Rabbi Brett for your partnership over the past two years, as well as the previous six years, as we worked together to address opportunities at IHC. Thank you for inspiring, challenging, and motivating us to be better human beings by living Jewishly in the world. I cannot wait to continue our partnership on new engagement, connection and social justice ideas. I am so grateful for your friendship and leadership.

I am grateful that my dad was alive when I assumed the IHC presidency and was able to share his observations and wisdom throughout most of my term. As the first daughter of a president to become president, I feel humbled by the opportunity to serve this holy community that he loved so deeply. I hope I made my dad proud.

Let us go forward together, from strength to strength, with fearlessness, with creativity, with action, and with hope. Thank you for the profound privilege of serving as President of this extraordinary community.

Patti Freeman Dorson