President's Report 2017
72nd AGM of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.
Once again, it has been an honour to serve as President of the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation this past year. I stand aside knowing that the organisation is in a strong position and that I am succeeded by a capable and competent President in Daniel Jenshel.
2017 has been another successful year for us, and I am pleased to note that we made an operating profit.
This year we have continued to innovate and trial new events and activities, while maintaining our regular schedule of events.
The Adult Education program grew out of a discussion about whether or not we should partner with the Melton Institute to return to Melbourne. In the end we decided that if we could offer quality speakers with interesting and relevant topics, people would attend regardless of the “brand”. So we set about establishing our own program starting with David Solomon and Paul Forgasz which has been extremely well attended and well received.
Shabbat dinners have been a feature of our shule for a number of years. In the past few years, we have had the Inkr572 dinners and the Bnei Mitzvah dinners. This year we introduced the first of our family dinners in recent times with our scholar in residence, Rabbi Dov Lipman. The feedback to this was overwhelmingly positive. We had over 100 people attend. One of our members who did not attend, but received positive feedback commented that if they had have known about the quality of the speaker, and the food to match they would have come. Of course I told that person to stay tuned and book early for the next one.
Bridge was an idea that was brought to the Board by Danny Gluck and we agreed to give it a go. To date it has been well received but will need to grow in order for it to be sustained as a core CHC activity.
Kobi Oved and the Boys’ Choir has been a significant achievement, and investment, for our Shule. While there were some early challenges in making this work, I think we can all see the benefit that this has had for our regular services, the Chevra, and those children who have now formed part of the CHC Boys’ choir. The choir under Kobi’s leadership is performing next week in the Bnai B’rith Jewish Eisteddfod finals after only a few short months of working together which is a great achievement.
Caulfield Shule was at the forefront of being a child safe organisation long before the Victorian Royal Commission and the Child Safe Legislation came into effect. In 2009 we were the first Shule to publish a Child Safety policy and I am pleased to inform you that we are compliant with the current child safe legislation. Training for the Board members has occurred and we have scheduled training with Tzedek for staff and volunteers in October. I am determined to also ensure that training for parents and members of our community in the coming months.
All of our successful programs have continued during the year and the number of people participating has grown. The Yom Ha’atzmaut Breakfast was a success once again, with Daniel Taub as our guest for the weekend. Tuesday Shmoozeday and Caulfield Bubs continue to thrive and our speaker’s circuit at Seudah shlishit is still the envy of the community. In fact we plan to document as many of the talks from this program as possible so that those who do not join us on Shabbat afternoons have the chance to benefit from the quality of our speakers.
The invitation extended to Rabbi Greenberg, by the Inkr572 committee, drew an equal amount of criticism and praise from members and non members alike. As a board we made a conscious decision to allow Rabbi Greenberg to speak and having attended the dinner, I know we made the right decision. Our younger community members were engaged in the discussion and it was the more religious members of the audience who respectfully asked questions of Rabbi Greenberg. The irrational concern that Rabbi Greenberg was seeking to advocate a gay lifestyle was just that. Irrational. He told his life story and provided a thought provoking perspective. In this day and age, we are obliged to provide young people with information and facts in order that they can make informed decisions in a supportive and respectful environment. The alternative is that they use social media as their library of facts and isolation their tool of engagement.
I can strongly commend Eli Solomon on the Bar Mitzvah program this year as I have had personal involvement. While it was disappointing that we did not have a Bat Mitzvah program last year, I am pleased to say that we will have one in 2018.
Our relationship with Hineni continues to strengthen, as demonstrated by the recent Hineni Shabbat takeover and the madrichim’s involvement in our various other activities, particularly the Purim and Chanukah Parties. It is also great to see that most of the madrichim for our children’s program, ably led by Tyla Chapman, are Hineni Madrichim which means that we are actively supporting and investing in the future of our youth.
When the Darchei Shalom Soup, Sandwiches and Chat initiative commenced, none of us were sure whether it could be sustained. Well, more than 12 months on, it is still going from strength to strength and I acknowledge the hard work of those involved every week.
Our regular services continue to operate and while there was a bit of a lull during winter, as is often the case, even the early morning minyan has had pretty good attendances.
The Community Centre Redevelopment continues to progress and gained a boost from the State Government with a grant of $250,000. This has allowed us to engage project managers to take us through the next stages of development, while we approach potential benefactors for capital commitments. My thanks go first to Rodney Horin who has driven this project from its inception but also to Rachel Mihalovich who has been the driving force behind our achievements to date.
Also this year, we re-signed Rabbi Genende, Rabbi Krasnjanski, and Dov Farkas, and hopefully will gain support from you tonight to formally engage Rabbi Gedaliah Levin as Chazan Sheini. I know that the community supports this high calibre team and we thank you all for your efforts. In particular, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Rabbi Genende and cannot speak highly enough of his warmth, commitment and motivation to meaningfully engage our members and the wider Jewish Community with modern Orthodox Judaism.
Turning to the Board, I want to acknowledge and thank each and every one of the board members for their support and active contribution this past year.
I don’t plan to mention each of you individually tonight but want you to know that without your support, advice and commitment we wouldn’t be where we are today. It is great that most of you are staying on the board. I do however wish to acknowledge that after more than 10 years of service Allen Milner has decided to retire from the Board. I only hope that he retains his role as Gabbai of the early morning minyan as he plays a pivotal role every morning of the year. I also note that Jesse Braunstein who is now living overseas will not continue on the board this year.
Our organisation would not be the envy of all if it were not for the staff at CHC. Yael Garkawe, in her role as Office Manager has really worked hard to ensure that we have a professional office, and this task was made somewhat easier due to the skill and professionalism of Sharon Abrahamov, Alida Karro, Simona Weinstein, Michelle Polak and Janna Maer. As always Danny, Eva, Marie and Bill have ensured that things behind the scenes run smoothly, and cleanly every day.
When I took on the Presidency two years ago, I spoke about us becoming more inclusive, our members becoming more actively involved and that we should act with a yiddeshe kop through debate and discussion.
You will be the judge of whether or not I have succeeded in those goals, but I leave feeling proud of the achievements that I have been able to lead.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the new board, especially Daniel Jenshel as the new President and the new members including Baron Katranski, Keren Ludski and Tammy Lincoln, as well as the not so new returned serviceman, Howard Zeimer.
Finally, I would like to thank my family for their ongoing support over the past two years, and on behalf of us all wish you all a Shannah Tovah, may we all have a happy and healthy new year.