Shomeret's Report 12.12.08


Shomeret's Report - Abigail Grafton


"The Minyan's light has never shone more brightly, and yet the Minyan has never been smaller than it is now." --Marv Langsam, long-time and honored Minyan member

Bob Jaffe (another long-time and honored Minyan member) mentioned this quote to me in conversation. I decided to call Marv and ask about it. Marv feels that we have never had more light bearers, those he described as people leading services, doing other spiritual work, or shining brightly in their own way. And yet, as a former Council member, Marv sees the Minyan continuing to struggle with too few volunteers, too few of our many friends signing up as members, and too little money.

I agree with Marv, and, I would like to add, that we have an extraordinary light shining among us, in Rabbi Diane Elliot. She shines among us by fostering, mentoring, and collaborating with us, so that we all come out and shine with her! So, let's tell it like it is - this is a remarkable time for the Minyan. We have a great spiritual opportunity, and we are rising to that challenge, in our classes, our services, and our lives. At the same time, as Rabbi Diane's letter points out, to continue on that path, we must take care of ourselves as a community and as an organization.

Some exciting news:

A Bequest and an Executive Director - In February, we will to receive a very generous bequest from Alison Bermond, z'l; she has left us $20,000. What a gesture of love! To be worthy of this gift, we need to use it well for the Minyan's future. We hope to avoid using any of this money for operations; rather, to use it to hire a half-time executive director, who has the skills to help us develop more income and a larger membership. This staff support will give us a much more stable base for growing the Minyan and supporting the Rabbi.

What's working?

Ever Deeper and Clearer We Grow! The Minyan is transforming itself, moving to an ever-deeper level in our spiritual work. And, everyone seems to agree that we have provided a superb High Holy Days experience. Our relationship with our Rabbi is profound, as is her influence on the community and its members. In many ways, the Minyan is returning to its roots. Led by the clear spirituality of Rabbi Diane and an ever-growing spiritual leadership group, we are becoming more collaborative, more lay-led, more spiritually focused all the time. Rabbi Diane's classes and workshops seem to have a transformative effect on the whole community. Respected leaders, who had previously drawn back upon the arrival of a rabbi, have grown to trust her, and have returned. Members, who had departed during the difficulties of a few years ago, attended a healing and celebratory session on the second morning of Rosh Hashana, reflecting joy on all sides. What a blessing! How impossible this would have seemed, just a few short years ago!

And, there are problems:

Problem 1: We're out of cash. (Use this link to donate right now or make a pledge. Call the office at 981-2130 or Abigail at 843-3131 to donate by phone. If we're out, we'll get right back to you.)

We all know that we are growing a community, and that paying a rabbinic salary that will be easier to carry when we are bigger. We have fundraised the last two years to make up the difference between our income and our expenses, and this year we must do the same. Our work with Rabbi Diane generates enormous good will and support, so that raising $27,000 in 2007, and $43,000 in $2008 was not terribly difficult. This year, we must find $45,000 in income between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2009. We expect this money to come from the following sources:
Membership dues: $6,000
Classes and workshops: $5,000
Donations of less than $1,000: $15,000
Donations of more than $1,000: $19,000

These are all achievable figures. We have accomplished them in the past, by encouraging each person to give what he/she/they can truly afford. Smaller contributions are as vital as the larger ones, in order to bring us to our goal. Our success depends, as Rabbi Diane points out, on a sufficient volunteer force to bring in the dues and donations, and a membership willing to stretch a little, to continue to build the edifice of the spirit we know and love. The Council has proposed a structure of several task forces, to share the work, and have fun along the way.

Problem 2: Volunteers Needed - Please read through the list below, and call Abigail (843-3131) to get started as a volunteer. We have a job that will fit your interests, time, and energy! Do not hesitate! We really want the Rabbi to sign her contract!

Member Recruitment Task Force - This group will work on increasing our membership, by contacting members who have not yet paid their dues, members who have been gone for a few years but attended the healing service at Rosh Hashana, people who came to the High Holy Days but did not join, and friends of the Minyan who currently participate but have never joined. We will be holding Shabbos dinners for new and prospective members. This task force currently consists of Abigail Grafton, Shoshana Dembitz, Barry Barkin, Bob Jaffe, Dan Mandel, and Miriam Chaya. We need help, particularly from people who like to chat on the phone.

Fundraising Task Force - This group will prepare the fundraising program to launch in December. This program will include sending a letter appeal, holding a donor's breakfast with Rabbi Diane, where we can explain our needs and get buy-in from the donors, calling donors, and writing grants. This group currently consists of Abigail, Miriam Chaya, Shoshana, Barry, and Frank Born. We need a new coordinator and some helpers.

Programming Task Force - This group plans and coordinates all our programs, including services at the JCC of the East Bay, home services, classes, Author Nights, and co-sponsorships. This group currently consists of Rabbi Diane, Shoshana, Abigail, Fran Avni, Shana Winakur, and Lea Delson. Fran has just started coordinating home services. Lea is running the Author nights. It is the best organized group, and could use some more help.

Public Relations Task Force - This group consists of Abigail, Neal Cronin, Debbie Sarnoff, and Shauna Rabinowitz (our PR coordinator on staff). We could really use people who have or want to learn PR skills, including strategies, writing press releases, and graphic design. Neal is editing the Update, and Debbie is updating the Event Line.

Growth and Visioning Task Force - This group develops and puts in place programs to create long-term growth. This might include a new website as an income source, new programs as income sources, and new approaches to becoming more visible. This group has had a very productive meeting. It currently consists of Bob Jaffe, Karen Roekard, Abigail, Barry, and Neal. Got ideas? Join this group.

Internet Task Force - This group is planning for a new website, and is working to give us a presence on Facebook, Myspace, Tribe, U-tube, and other social networking and Jewish sites. It currently consists of Sophie Miron, Neal, Abigail and Len Feldman. Want to play? Like to blog about the Minyan? Join us.


So, my friends, let's get this done, so we can enjoy our community for the rest of the year! Please call Abigail (843-3131) or the office (981-2130), for questions, donations, or volunteering. Blessings! Thanks for reading!