There’s two angles to this month’s reflection. One is a note on my two years as CHJ president and the other is a comment on a particular current issue. Let me start with that.
All organizations go through life cycles. At times groups seem to run themselves and without effort grow each year. Other years just aren’t like that. We’re coming off a year where a drop in membership and Sunday School students has affected our budget and directed our attention to areas we should address.
Passing through cycles during our almost 50 year life span is nothing new to CHJ. For example there was a time when we had 100 students in our Sunday School. Yet eventually it was discontinued until it’s rebirth 23 years ago when it reopened with 3 kids.
In the last few Board meetings we have been able to identify key elements of the budget that we have to maintain and others we need to slim down. As you might imagine this has taken a lot of compromise and cooperative work. In short we’ve reduced planned expenditures, increased dues and Sunday School fees, and begun a focus on fundraising. Two new committees have been established - one for membership recruitment and the other for fundraising. I’m confident that this will be a short term phase in the life of our congregation yet it’s a good thing to not let go unnoticed.
CHJ continues to be the best value Jewish affiliation in Fairfield County and the only one that offers a Humanistic Jewish approach to Jewish life and education. The dues and Sunday School tuition continue to be in an entirely different (lower) category than area synagogues and our current budgeting steps will ensure we can continue to fill this unique role.
And now on to my other comment... It’s a much used phrase but really, where did the time go? Two year’s has just flown by. I’ve learned so much, gotten to know so many of you so much better and love the congregation even more. That’s the thing about CHJ that I relearn over and over again: the more involved you become the more you you get out of it. Thank you for the opportunity to be your president! I look forward to working with Steve Ulman and I know he has all the skills and personal style to lead our CHJ community toward great things!