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A year in review by Immediate Past President, Rob Litz

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2019

READ THE FULL ANNUAL REPORT AT: www.ti-stl.org/AnnualReport 

We have accomplished so many things together in 2019. Our Leadership Development program was revitalized and will begin in early 2020. That outstanding program is called “Leading with a Jewish Heart” and will develop the next group of Congregational leaders who will reinvigorate our volunteer committees and turn great ideas into action, providing for better programs, policies, and member experience. We also began the process to examine TI’s by-laws, which have not been amended for many years. I look forward to completing that task in the next year. In May, TI was proud to host a Holocaust Remembrance week of events, which included the presentation of The Soap Myth, starring Ed Asner, to the community and to a group of hundreds of high school students. We also rededicated TI’s Holocaust Torah and crayon exhibit in memory of the children who perished.

During the summer, we continued our Reimagining Project, transforming TI’s education building into a comfortable and safe facility with a 21st-century design. We successfully constructed the new entrance, ADA accessible ramp, drop-off canopy, lighting, paint, and landscaping. All the work was completed on time and under budget. A great deal of time was spent planning for the next phase of the Reimagining project to be completed in the summer of 2020, which will include a new security vestibule, the relocation of the school office adjacent to the main entrance, and a replacement of the windows and HVAC system. Next summer, repairs will also be completed to the building exterior, including tuck-pointing, new paint, and concrete repairs. All the Reimagining Project work already completed and planned for 2020 is a result of the generosity of our members who have donated to this important capital campaign to ensure our facilities are a safe and inviting environment, conducive to learning for future generations. The Reimagining Campaign continues as we are raising funds for the final phase of the project to update and upgrade the interior of the Temple’s Education Center, including an infant room, flooring, wall covering, new technology, and furniture. I am confident you will join me and more than 130 individuals and families in donating to this worthwhile endeavor.

Other facility improvements during the past year included new exterior lights in the parking lots next to the Chapel, a new Chapel roof, and a fresh coat of paint in the Chapel. During the summer, we also replaced some of the air conditioning equipment serving the Chapel.

We continued to operate our financial affairs within our means in light of the balanced budget approved by the Board of Trustees. We are so grateful for your financial support, including donating to our Annual High Holy Days Giving Appeal. Thank you! We are also thankful for our members who pay their annual membership dues, as well as those who support TI as members of the Shofar Society and Rabbis’ Circle. I am proud to report Temple Israel continues its tradition of providing membership regardless of financial challenges. We are truly a community that supports each other.

It’s no surprise that our support of one another is unparalleled. Here at Temple Israel, we believe that Judaism is better when we do it together. Sometimes that means gathering for Shabbat worship services to sing, pray, mourn, or celebrate. Sometimes we join a class for discussion or debate to learn and grow in our Judaism, or we bring our children to the Education Center to become the next generations of mensches as they soak in Jewish values and traditions. Often, we perform acts of loving-kindness – g’milut chasadim – and take steps to repair of the world – tikkun olam – as a bigger Temple family. We give to those in need, we serve those who are marginalized in our community, we fight for what’s right, and we do it together. However, you and your family choose to express your faith, being a member of Temple Israel means that you gain a diverse and inclusive community of people who will be right by your side as you journey through your Jewish life.

Whether you’ve been a member of Temple Israel for generations, or just saw this Annual Report online, there are a few things you should know as you navigate the pages.

Anyone who wants to take part in congregational life is invited to join us and enjoy the programs and opportunities that we offer. We believe that a diverse community creates Jewish vibrancy, and that you add brilliance to this community just by being uniquely you. Our lay leaders, volunteers, staff, Rabbis, and members strive to be audaciously welcoming and we want you to feel right at home envisioning your face or your family on any of these pages. There are no financial barriers to you belonging, and if there should ever be an obstacle, we’ll create a new path around it.

We provide a holy space for any program or service you choose to attend, and we’re so much more! If it’s one service a year that brings you in, keep doing that! If you’re looking for more, we’ve got that, too. And if we don’t have what you’re looking for, let us know. We’d love the opportunity to partner with you to create it.

We embrace change, which is necessary to move forward as an inclusive spiritual home as times and needs evolve. It is you, yes you, reading this now that helps us to build upon the last 133 years of innovation to shape Temple Israel for the future.

As we plan for the year to come, our leadership could not be more excited about the direction in which we’re headed. We are blessed to have Louise Losos stepping up and serving as the new President of the Board of Trustees. I know Louise will be an outstanding President and we are fortunate to have her. If you joined us for our 133rd Annual Meeting (December 6, 2019), you may have had the chance to meet the awesome Trustees who were confirmed for a first term of Temple leadership, as well as those who have signed on for another term of board service. Each of our lay leaders, clergy, as well as our staff, our volunteers, and every person who calls Temple Israel home, has a sacred partnership with one another. We believe that our individual and collaborative contributions elevate holiness, and at the Annual Meeting, we celebrated that partnership by rededicating ourselves to another year of working together for the greatest good.

If you couldn’t make it to the Annual Meeting, but are interested in becoming more involved or even involved for the first time, we would love the opportunity to meet you here at Temple to share in Shabbat services or to grab a coffee and chat. Whether you already know exactly where you fit or don’t yet know where to begin, we want to ensure your experience here at Temple Israel is fulfilling and meaningful. We invite you into this sacred partnership with opportunities that speak to your soul. You can reach out to me, Louise, to our Executive Director Rachel Wallis Andreasson, or to our Rabbis, Amy and Michael. We are very accessible and ready to meet you where you are. Thank you for your Sacred Partnership with TI.

READ THE FULL ANNUAL REPORT AT: www.ti-stl.org/AnnualReport 

Robert D. Litz
Immediate Past President (2018-19)


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