As you read this message you are probably taking a break from the last minute preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the happy days that are in front of you. Rosh Hashanah is a time to welcome the New Year with family and friends and to look at the New Year as a joyous time of the year. We look and feel our best, cook our finest meals, wear our newest clothes and welcome home our children, parents and other family members to this family celebration. No other Holiday in the Jewish calendar is celebrated in such a positive way and with the hope of better things to come.
It is also the time of year when we reflect on the past year and think of ways in which we can be better this year, and things we will do that we didn’t do before. We always feel that we can improve ourselves and that Rosh Hashanah offers us a chance for a new beginning and a brighter outlook on the upcoming year. As President I think about what we have done and what we can improve upon in the New Year. Have we really accomplished our goals in the past year and can we build on the momentum of last year to get even better this year? Letâ€™s me begin by looking at a few of our accomplishments in the last year.
One of our goals was to have enhanced kiddushes. This was accomplished through the hard work of our Kiddush committee who spent many hours in the kitchen preparing on a weekly basis. Not only are there enhanced Shabbat kiddushes, but we also saw that our Holiday meals have really come along way. We even brought back the beer and hotdogs of 1987! More importantly most of our events were free to the congregation and we strived to make our special meals affordable so that all families could attend.
I said we would take a more business-like approach to operating the shul and we did. We are in a much better financial position than a year ago. Despite losing both bingos we almost managed to break even, which is quite an accomplishment. Our fundraising efforts were significantly improved. Starting with the tribute dinner where we raised a significant amount of funds and gained great community exposure. The Marketplace in November was another excellent event and thanks to all of you for purchasing Loblaw’s cards throughout the year.
Our success in children’s programs is progressing. With great parties at Chanukah and Purim, as well as Shabbat programming, we planted the seeds of a program which will grow with time. We know we can improve on last year and I urge you to come forward and help us do so.
But that is in the past. So where do go from here?
Programming will be the first priority. We are actively looking for a program director so that we can get things moving. Our youth and adult programming need an overhaul so that we can meet the challenges of other shuls around us. As much as we have done some programs well, we have a long way to go. We want CBTO to be the shul that others look to for inspiration. We are also reviewing our Shabbat services in an effort to make them shorter, and also to encourage more participation
Perhaps the most important goal for this year will be younger generation Involvement. Our shul has been led by the same people for over thirty years. It is time for us to hand over the reins to the next generation who have new and fresh ideas of what our programming should be and on how our services should be. We have taken steps in this direction by adding younger Board members. We have started our monthly Family Shabbat service where a less formal service is followed and more learning is featured. Hopefully what is developed here can find its way into our regular service.
The time has come for CBTO to turn the page and make our shul more relevant and more attractive to the next generation. As members I ask you all to help us in this endeavor. We all like things to remain the same but we all need to be open to change. We need to embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things so that we don’t let ourselves and our shul fall behind. I urge you all to listen to our younger generation as they are the future of CBTO. Let us make 5777 the year that CBTO welcomes a new beginning.
I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year and may it be your best year ever.
Howard, Joyce, Ashlie, Lonnie, Evan & Ashley