Annual Meeting 2014

I would like to talk about the future of UBS but first, I thought it would be useful to talk about the prior year.

Last year, at this meeting, I outlined a few objectives for us.   We needed to revamp the committee structure and under the leadership of Rick Bensusan, we’ve accomplished that.   We needed to revamp our website and since October, we’ve had a much more attractive, and equally important, a much more maintainable website.   We also needed to bring UBS into compliance with Rhode Island’s rather strict fire codes.   As you can see by the ubiquitous red boxes all over the building, that task has just been accomplished.   I want to thank Barry for all his work in helping to get this done.

I want to thank the members of the board and the committees for all their hard work in accomplishing all of this.

More importantly, though, the congregation has become more vibrant and engaged.   We’ve had a number of very successful programs this year, ranging from a special program on Norway’s response to the holocaust arranged by Erik Skoag to our very active book club,  to our annual Latkepalooza celebration and our sold-out community seder.

There is one goal we didn’t achieve from last year:  we talked about increasing our membership to 60-65 membership units and although we had a very slight increase this year, we had hoped for more.   Membership growth needs to be a priority for the coming year.

When the board met a few weeks ago, we also discussed some long range planning goals.  Herb is chairing a committee to look at the synagogue’s finances to make sure we are able to continue our strong results.

We also have asked the building committee to look at the building and help come up with a long range plan for it.   We’re in a very old structure which has various aches and pains and we need to understand and plan for the inevitable problems.   They’ll be looking at things like our roof, the mechanical systems, electrical and plumbing and will bring in outside expertise to help them.

More immediately, we’ve set a goal for more programming and more participation by the members.

We have several events planned for the upcoming months to help meet these goals.

  • I’m working with Scott to organize a music Sabbath program.  We’ve had these in the past and they’ve been quite successful.
  • We also not that Scott will be conducting his 200th service with us in August.   He’s been our ba’al tefilah — our prayer leader – since 2002 and we’re planning a special service and oneg for him.  Ellen and Rick are chairing the event.
  • We will, of course, have our annual Chanukah Latkepalooza and Passover seder and this coming March, Purim corresponds pretty closely to our scheduled service so I’ve discussed with Scott doing a special Purim service.

As you can see, we’re going to have an active and exciting year.   But all these events require work to make them happen.   So this is an appeal to get more involved with UBS and help us achieve our goals.   I know I’m preaching to the choir here – if you didn’t care about UBS you wouldn’t come to the meeting – but consider joining a committee or volunteering for an event.   We are always looking for people to help out.   If you want to volunteer, see Rick or any member of the board.

I would like single out two people who exemplify that spirit of volunteerism and who have contributed an enormous amount of time, talent and energy to United Brothers.   Whenever we need something to be done, they are there.   Ellen and Rick, I’d like to present you this year’s president’s award.

In that vein, I would like to thank all of the people who have worked so hard to make UBS a thriving congregation.   To the outgoing board members, thank you for your service.   To the board members remaining or just joining the board, welcome and I look forward to working with you.

The work we do in maintaining this congregation is both sacred work and a mitzvah.   Having a thriving Jewish presence in this place and in this time is important for us and it’s important for the whole community.

Thank you for your help and support.

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