Celebrating the 50th year of the congregation in 2017….
Teen Tzedakah Group shows off backpacks ready for Mercy Center school kids.
Rosh Hashanah eve service ends with a blessing and an Oneg.
The shofar is heard at CHJ Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Family Services.
Members all play a role in making the congregation work. Read about how CHJ is organized.
Members meet for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Sherwood Island State Park.
Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of Trees, falls on the fifteenth day of the month of Shvat. It originated in a pagan festival honoring Asherah, goddess of farmers and fertility. Her chief festival took place at the end of the rainy season, when the sap begins to rise in the fruit trees of Israel. –… Read More
Our Congregation celebrates Passover together each year with a humanistic seder for families on the second night, as well as a children’s model seder during Sunday School. Although Passover began as a nature holiday, celebrating new life, it became a commemoration of the biblical exodus and the escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. Jews today read… Read More
Families are the future of CHJ. Our inclusive, warm, welcoming Congregation includes families of all stripes coming together to celebrate Judaism and being Jewish. From Baby Naming to Sunday School to Bar & Bat Mitzvah to the Teen Tzedakah Group to Adult Ed, you’ll find a community for families and kids of all ages. Humanistic… Read More
At CHJ’s recent annual meeting I was elected by the membership to become CHJ’s next president. I am grateful for this honor and for the opportunity to contribute to a community which I so deeply respect and strongly identify.
A Sincere “Thank You”
I cannot begin my term without first acknowledging the contributions of my immediate predecessor Alex Mack. Alex led our congregation with steadfast dedication, talent and integrity. Among her numerous contributions were the congregation-wide survey that provided the Board with valuable information from which it was able to make informed decisions reflective of your wishes, the introduction of a paid, part-time program coordinator position to provide support to our member volunteers in developing and executing CHJ program events and, a meaningful celebration of our 50th anniversary featuring an array of events that covered the spectrum of Humanistic Judaism education to just plain fun. On behalf of the congregation I express our deep appreciation to Alex for a job well-done and to Kurt and Julian for their patience and cooperation in sharing Alex with us during her term.
In addition to thanking those who have agreed to serve on committees as chairs or members for the upcoming years I especially acknowledge CHJ’s newly elected officers; David Shufrin, Executive Vice President, Walt Frank, Treasurer and, Ruth Light, Secretary. We all look forward to working together on behalf of CHJ.
CHJ’s Cooperative Model and Today’s Challenges
As we leave our 50th anniversary year behind it is important to consider the many CHJ members who have volunteered over the past five decades to make today’s CHJ a vibrant, relevant and meaningful congregation through a strong array of programs and from which we, as present members, now benefit. The cooperative model which has been our fundamental operating structure since CHJ’s inception has fostered creativity, the sense of family and of ownership among members. It also makes CHJ very affordable to belong to an organization that offers a Jewish connection and community that reflects and advances the principles of Humanistic Judaism.
Today, the cooperative model and its benefits are challenged by a society that pulls us in many directions. Volunteerism often takes a back seat in the face of other imperatives that compete for our time. Recognizing that this reality is now reflected in a decline of the number of CHJ volunteers and of programs your Board responded by creating the new position of program coordinator and as previously announced, hired our own and highly qualified Emily Shufrin to fill the role. It is important to understand that in this part-time position and consistent with the cooperative model, Emily will play a support role to CHJ member volunteers. The program coordinator position does not replace the continued need for volunteers. CHJ members will continue to take the lead in conceiving, chairing and serving on committees of various programs throughout the year. Emily will be available to you to provide guidance and logistical support such as vetting a proposed program idea with you, securing a location, working with vendors, coordinating meetings with committee members, etc. In short, with newly available support it is expected that the volunteer experience will be more fun, less time-consuming and just as rewarding. With an increase in the number of volunteers willing to create new programs and to support and maintain our established programs CHJ has the means to expand its programs, relevance and value for ourselves as members and increase the attraction of CHJ to prospective members.
A “Call To Action” for Newer Members
While it is hoped that with this new source of support we will see many longer-term members continue to volunteer as they have done in the past, I am especially calling upon all newer members who have not yet done so to now take your place as our next generation of volunteers. Program ideas have always come from the creativity of our members. If you have a program idea that you would like to implement then go for it. That’s how it works. You will receive enthusiastic and personalized support to bring your idea to fruition. Or, you may wish to start by working with a program chair and/or committee in helping to conduct a new or previously established program.
Volunteering for programs which in the process, advances the purpose and interests of our congregation, is one of the best opportunities available to newer members to get to know and connect with others within our community, to make a difference and, to experience an enhanced sense of value from CHJ membership. Just ask any one of our active, longer-term members.
Whether you are a newer member or a longer-term member, your volunteer support in creating new, fresh programs or in supporting existing programs is needed. What better time to do so than at the dawn of our next 50 years and with the support of our newly created program coordinator position to help ensure success? What better time for those of us who are newer members (myself included) to step up and start working along-side of and to learn from, the longer-term members who created many of the congregation’s current, long-standing programs so that at some point and if so desired, these programs may be handed-off with confidence to the next generation of volunteers? And, what better time to work together to create a varied and robust base of programs to ensure that CHJ continues to provide value and meaning to our current membership while attracting new members and especially, younger people and families with Sunday school-aged children?
This is our challenge, our responsibility and, our opportunity.
Making it Happen
So, during this summer I hope you will give this important request your consideration. Decide to make a difference and together as a community let’s continue to nurture and grow CHJ for today and for tomorrow.
To get started or to learn more about CHJ program volunteer opportunities contact Emily at CHJCTPrograms@gmail.com or 860-707-9808.
Thank you for reading this and I look forward to serving as your president.