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August/September Update

Dear Friends,
 
This month I received a lovely email from a new member and another from a gentleman who had contacted me previously about attending our services with his family while he was visiting the region from Mexico. With their permission, I am sharing part of their emails with you.
 
"What a lovely Shabbat...So glad that you suggested that I come to shul... It was such a good decision for me to join KBI, I feel so very comfortable there. Hope other new members feel the same way. 
BTW, I was so warmly greeted in the hallway (by Mordechai Brodt), this morning, as I entered...another good example of the welcoming atmosphere at KBI....."
 
"Thanks Helen...The prayer service was nice and a warm community. 
Thanks once more."
 
I am so proud of the welcoming and friendly culture that we are developing at KBI and for which we are becoming known. This is evident in the camaraderie that is demonstrated in synagogue and afterwards, during kiddish. It is wonderful to see how many people remain after services to talk with others at their tables and how mixed these tables are with all age groups and backgrounds. We are truly becoming a community that is engaged and caring.
 
I have often remarked in synagogue on Shabbat that I wished we could take photos. There are so many vignettes and scenes that I would love to capture and share. This month 2 in particular come to mind - the first, a brother, who volunteered as Gabbai Rishon, when he called up for the first time his own sister, for her Torah Aliyah; and the second, our Cantor's face on seeing his middle son read Torah.  
 
Our recent Pride Shabbat celebrations were designed to further encourage acceptance, diversity and inclusion. I could not help but wonder if our Mayor, Jim Watson, would have had to wait 40 years to come out if he had been exposed earlier on to such open programming and role models.
 
As usual, I always welcome feedback from our members and the ability to talk and discuss and if necessary, agree to disagree. I received many positive and just a few negative emails regarding our recent Drag Queen Story Hour. I realize now that we should have explained more fully in our advertising, what the program was about, what it hoped to accomplish, and that it was an established program that is spreading across North America.  
 
Rabbi Kenter summarized this well in writing:
 " (this program provides...) the opportunity to allow children a chance to talk and think about social and emotional issues like acceptance, being yourself and loving who you are. It's OK to be different,' and 'There's no such thing as "boy" and "girl" things....These are among the values that we want to teach our children.  That no matter who you are or who you love, how one wishes to dress, or how one identifies, you are loved and you are safe in our community.  We believe, as those teachers did, that this program can help to instill those values in our children and having a glamorous, positive, (in this case Jewish) and unabashedly queer role model can be of benefit to our kids. 
While we know this program will not be for everyone, nor was it designed to be, we believe that our participation in the program and ability to convey these values to our children is essential."
 
Monday evening, August 19th, we celebrated our Volunteers with a delicious BBQ. It was our opportunity to thank the many people who selflessly devote countless hours to help make our Kehillat the great place it is. All are deeply appreciated and to be commended for the work that they do on our behalf. Thank you and Yashur Koach!!!
 
On that note, a special expression of gratitude to Yaffa Greenbaum, who is retiring after
decades of service leading our TOV Team. She and her team have definitely made a difference with the very important work that they have done for our shul and community. Yaffa has advanced the social conscience of our synagogue with the Tov team's many varied initiatives and we are very grateful for all that she has done.  
 
Finally, I would like to give you advance notice that our Board has set October 16, 2019, as the date of our Annual General Meeting. We look forward to seeing our membership there.
 
Respectfully submitted,
Helen Zipes
President, Kehillat Beth Israel
Sat, 25 January 2020 28 Tevet 5780