The Financial Four -- November 30, 2016

Today, the latest edition of The Financial Four, an update from our Interim Director of Finance, Missy Sue Mastel.

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Miss me?

Well, not to worry; things have been hopping around the synagogue, so much so that I haven’t had a moment to do my favorite part of the job – updating YOU, our generous community! But there's lots of good news to share, so let's get to it.

1. Our 2015-16 financials are in the bag. – Closing out the year presented a few challenges, but we were able to get our financials done and through the audit by September; a noble timeframe. The auditors were happy, the bank was happy, and the financials are available to anyone who wants to see them.

2. An unbelievable High Holiday season. – There is very little we could do without you, but this is particularly true of the High Holy Days. The services at CBS this year – joyous, moving, meaningful – were successful because of you. Now, following the High Holiday season, I’m in the fortunate position of seeing just how much you value our services and community experiences: $748,000 in membership dues, $238,000 in Kol Nidre pledges, and more and more of you coming to events all the time! Speaking of...

3. All the ways we celebrate together. – The Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat was packed this past Friday evening with congregants and amazing performers. The upcoming Hanukkah celebration (Light It Up!, December 15), our b'nai mitzvah and birthday celebrations (mazel tov on your 85th, Norm!), the December 6 new member event, which looks like it is officially "sold out" — all of these are ways we use the synagogue to connect as a community. CBS is not just charity that its members support. CBS is a place to see and rejoice with people we love to see and rejoice with.

4. But, yes, it is ALSO a charity. – We are doing some amazing things with the money you generously donate: we are focusing on improving efficiencies and workflows; finding better ways to engage you, our prized members; and utilizing technology that is creating a better customer experience. Starting this month, a select group of you will be receiving membership statements via email. In the next few months, we will be enabling powerful systems to allow you to make donations from wherever you are. Just imagine it – you see something happening in your world, and CBS can be an instantaneous part of your reaction. You can learn more about it by registering for a class, or you can make a donation that will help combat anti-Semitism, enable a community Israel opportunity, or sponsor a child’s Jewish heritage – all of this while you're on the go, boarding at an airport, in a ride share, or between meetings. We want to be wherever you are.

So...on that note, no need to miss me too much! Stop by the synagogue any time, and let’s discuss all the ways that you and I can make this place sing!

L’shalom,
Missy Sue

Stories From The Minyan

ChapelThe beating heart of CBS is our minyan.

We are the only synagogue in the Bay Area with a twice-daily, egalitarian minyan, one in which women and men play equal roles. Morning and evening, we join as one in the intimate Gronowski Family Chapel and carry on our rich tradition of communal worship.

We come together to daven (pray) for personal and collective edification, but also because it's important to us that we are there for every person who wants to pray or mourn, recite Kaddish, or recall the anniversary of a loved one’s passing with communal support.

Ours in a large community, however, and many CBS congregants have not participated in morning or evening minyan services. As a result, not everyone knows how special an experience it is. With that in mind, we’d like to share two minyan vignettes with you.

If you appreciate the anecdotes below, please consider joining us for minyan -- and, one day, you'll have some of your own stories to share with the community!

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It’s a custom in our minyan to invite those observing a yahrzeit (anniversary of a significant death in the family) to say something about their loved one. When people share, it’s always a moving experience.

An indelible yahrzeit occurred a few years ago. A woman stood and spoke of her mother:

She was in Auschwitz. From that experience, she learned hope. And she gave that hope to us.

With just a few words, this bereaved woman passed on the hope she described to all of us who were there with her - and now, we hope, to you. It seemed oxymoronic to place the words “Auschwitz” and “hope” in the same sentence. It was a gift to receive this departed mother’s phoenix spirit.

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His hands and shoulders shook with tremors. Still, this elderly, former Refusenik came to Beth Sholom’s minyan to say Kaddish for his wife, now gone 27 years. Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh put her hand on his shoulder, closed her eyes, and soulfully chanted the El molei rachamin. Grief poured out of the man as the tune wound its way through his soul and reached ours. His mouth trembled with tears as the love he shared with his wife came to the surface.

To be witness to the innermost feelings of others is a special privilege and honor. Our lives are enriched when we feel the power of such a love connection. The minyan in Beth Sholom’s chapel is an intimate experience, both literally and figuratively -- intimate in size and intimate in terms of the personal connections between the people and our different stories.

After the El molei, we moved towards this man. We took his hand in ours. We looked him in the eye. We extended our compassion for his loss.

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You'll find details about our morning and evening minyan times on our services page. If you haven't come before, we invite you to join us! If you're an infrequent minyan participant, we look forward to seeing you again!

In the meantime, we welcome minyan stories from those of you who have participated in the CBS minyan, however infrequently. Please email Judy Einzig (or call her at 415.487.4622). You can either tell her about your experience and she’ll write it up, or you can write it up yourself and send it to her. Thank you!

Image credit: 1) photo of the Gronowski Family Chapel, where our morning and evening minyanim occur; 2) a scene from a recent morning minyan (on a Thursday, one of two weekdays that Torah is read)

New Frontier USY Mini-Mission-Mitzvah

MissionMitzvah_USY_Jan2016Sunday, January 17, was the annual New Frontier USY Mini-Mission-Mitzvah, a day dedicated to United Synagogue Youth (USY) teens making a difference for local community service organizations. This year, New Frontier USY focused their efforts in San Francisco, and a dozen of our CBS USYers hosted other teens from ten USY outposts in the region for an enjoyable and meaningful Sunday of service.MissionMitzvah3_USY_Jan2016

At the end of the day, they returned to CBS for Ma'ariv services with Rabbi Glazer and Lior Ben-Hur in the Gronowski Family Chapel, followed by dinner and music with Lior in Koret Hall.

CBS gives a hearty "Kol HaKavod!" to our CBS teens for hosting the Mini-Mission-Mitzvah and exhibiting such menschlichkeit (inspiring humanity)! Todah rabbah, too, to David Herrera, our fearless CBS Youth Advisor, for leading the community service charge!

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