Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Message from President Lou Abramovitz
This is not a fairy tale…
About 66 years ago a small number of mostly young Jewish families in North Orange County decided it was a good idea to form a Temple to hold Shabbat worship services. They started small but grew fast. There was an explosion of Jewish families in the community, and many began to join the Temple. A full-time Rabbi and Cantor led the congregation and within a decade of its founding they’d purchased land, built a great sanctuary, buildings for classrooms, and offices.
The Synagogue became the center of the Orange County Jewish activity. Membership increased rapidly to over 550 family units. The Temple’s religious school filled the class rooms to capacity. Even the JSI (Jewish Studies Institute) day school was located on campus for a while. However, time marches on, people age, children grow up, communities change. The children, who’d grown up immersed in Synagogue activities, got married, became leaders in the Jewish world, and moved on. A great many moved south, as did many of their parents. A new Temple was founded by some of these folks and others joined the Synagogues that sprung up in the newly expanding communities to the south. After the arch of the life span of the Shul passed its apex, it began renting space to a growing Church, and after a half century the Temple membership was in decline.
Young families with small children were not joining the Shul. The buildings fell into disrepair. The years passed and the trends continued. The combination of the rapid decline of the facilities and the lack of funds to cope with it put the Temple in serious jeopardy. By selling the property to the Church, the Temple was able to solidify its financial position for a number of years, but it was no longer in control of the property. As a tenant, many changes would come over time. The driving force of change was the demographics of the Temple membership.
The congregation moved out of the great sanctuary, which they could not fill, while the church filled the seats each week. The move to the Chapel was invigorating. Those who continued to participate were reminded just how loving and connected a congregation it still was.
Although our membership is older and our numbers are not growing, we are still filled with enthusiasm, ruach and caring. There is no going back, however, we are still here. The large Board of Directors, which was once a very small percentage of the membership, now comprised approximately 20% of the congregation. Filling positions had become an extremely difficult task. It was clear that organizational change was necessary and a new course had to be charted as the congregation was likely to run out of members before running out of funds. With much debate and compromise, the Board decided to do its best to honor the memory of all who built and maintained Temple Beth Emet over more than six decades. At the same time the decision was made to carry on serving our existing community as best we can for as long as it is practical to do so.
Providing the best Jewish experiences for youth has always been a priority for Temple Beth Emet. We all know the story of the old man who planted a tree for those who would come after him, and why. Our organization’s Constitution states that “The object … shall be to establish and maintain a Synagogue, … and foster such … activities as will help advance and perpetuate Judaism in our community, country, and world.” And so, our legacy must be to advance and perpetuate Judaism for future generations. We are enhancing the Jewish experiences of Jewish youth in Orange County by having established a TBE Legacy Endowment. This endowment will provide grants to enable Jewish, youth through high school age, to have Jewish camping and Israel focused opportunities. L'dor v'dor, from generation to generation, this will be part of Temple Beth Emet's legacy.
It is with great pride that Temple Beth Emet's legacy will continue to be an integral part of our Jewish community. Imagine how many Jewish youth will benefit from this wonderful tree we have planted for them.
Just as we began by building a Jewish community for many young families, we are now providing for their grandchildren and for so many more.
This is not a fairy tale...
We still have a community to serve, and we will continue on to the best of our ability. The recent Congregational membership meeting saw the approval of changes to the Temple constitution and bylaws, streamlining the Board.
Our goal is to maintain Shabbat and holiday services, provide pastoral care, and be a place to gather together as long as it is sensible to do so. We will move forward with Cantor Brooks anchoring our bimah. Often, as we’ve had for the past few months, there will be guest clergy, including rabbis, from the broader Jewish community. It is noteworthy that our guests all have similar comments on how extraordinary it is to gather with our tightknit group. To carry on, the Board seeks and needs your help and input. Our focus is now is squarely on joining together in love and caring, for this too is not a fairy tale.
And, in celebration of TBE’s 65th Anniversary, please attend our Special Event on Sunday afternoon, June 26, and receive your own personal copy of our beautiful bound 65th Anniversary Book chronicling TBE’s amazing history.