In many aspects we have had yet another successful year. Our membership is up despite Covid, the attendance at both in person and Zoom services continues to grow, and we are financially stable.
As you know by now, at the end of each year I ask all the board members and committee chairs to tell me about what they think we should be most proud of having accomplished together. As always during my 4-year presidency of your congregation I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each of them, both individually and as members of a team that truly works only with one goal in mind – the betterment of our community.
Speaking as president for just a moment, I must share that this team is collaborative, focussed, and just plain fun to be a part of! Our board meetings are always well attended, efficient, productive and engender enthusiastic discussions on topics or ideas we know matter to our membership. The only “fly in the ointment” is that we always had to meet on Zoom. Since we have been holding in person services, we have built deeper relationships with each other and that bodes well for the incoming board too.
Rabbi Lynn’s work over the past year has been outstanding. We all feel blessed to have Rabbi Lynn as our spiritual leader. She has continued to be present for each member, leading services as we have gone back and forth between all-Zoom, in person, and a combination of the two – no mean feat! Reintroducing gatherings in person while keeping Zoom available for people not comfortable meeting in person has been a very important concept for your Board.
Speaking of in person gatherings, Rabbi Lynn’s idea to hold a non-Seder Seder was an outstanding success. We limited attendance to 50 people and quickly attained that number. What fun we all had while fulfilling the mitzvah of reading the Haggadah. We had so much fun, watch for it in 2023 – I hope!
Another gathering that was a huge success was Saturday morning services for Shavuot. I must admit I was wrong when I told Rabbi Lynn “Kolot Mayim doesn’t do Shavuot” – we had over 40 people for services, blintzes, and camaraderie! None of us wanted to leave – services started at 10 and we were all still together at 1 o’clock.
Besides these very special moments, we have managed to maintain attendance at both Zoom and in person Shabbat services, as always thanks to Rabbi Lynn’s leadership, ably supported by her wonderful husband Aaron. Aaron provides much more than technical support – we all know the Rebbesir is deserving of our deep gratitude too.
All board members are very proud of our Rabbi’s support to folks especially within but also outside Kolot Mayim. Rabbi Lynn provides funeral services and support to families that are not affiliated with our Temple and is often asked to perform weddings and baby-namings as well. Rabbi Lynn is also interviewed and published in our local community thereby raising our profile in Victoria, Vancouver Island, and elsewhere. Her classes – be it Torah study, Intro to Judaism, conversion, special topics – are always well received from far and wide – again raising our profile.
The last 2 years have been challenging for any organization. The Kolot Mayim leadership with the able help of many, many volunteers have worked hard to fill the needs of people that are locked down through providing gifts (whether delivered or picked up) as well as making sure people in need are contacted regularly. Ordinarily, at this stage, I would provide you with the numbers of contacts Deb Weiss has made be it by phone, get well cards, thank you cards, and deliveries. This year Deb and Richard are on an extended RV trip, but I can assure you it was at least the same 120 contacts as it was last year.
Even with Covid and having to go back and forth between all-Zoom, in person, and a combination of the two we managed to increase our membership, and keep Kolot Mayim as a vibrant, supportive community. We managed to bond and develop new friendships despite Covid.
Marilyn Wolovick continues to be a key volunteer with Kolot Mayim. Her leadership of the Adult Learning committee is stellar. The attendance at our Building Bridges series continues to grow from far and wide, raise our profile and we are delighted she has agreed to maintain this role. She is also applying for grants this year. As an aside, Marilyn even helped me out with a small project that was way outside my wheelhouse – thank you Marilyn.
I must also mention the superb financial management of our Temple finances by Morris Bleviss. Most congregations have a bookkeeper and a Treasurer – Morris does it all! He is always willing to help out, no matter the endeavour – truly a gem for our Temple.
At last year’s AGM I told you of a new and innovative approach to education – the Kolot Mayim Jewish Family Learning Circle. You may recall it is an intergenerational program, meeting for 2 hours on a Sunday morning each month. The sessions are activity centered and focused on whole language learning. Unfortunately, we did not receive enough registrants to make it financially viable. This year we are offering it to the community again and hopefully we will have enough families interested to make a go of it.
We completed the First Edition of our history, dubbed Kin Keepers by Rabbi Lynn. All members received a copy a few months ago and we received enthusiastic feedback and gratitude. I want to thank the volunteers who conducted the interviews and the folks who agreed to be interviewed. It was a wieldy project with many moving pieces. Not surprisingly this First Edition also engendered more in-depth information being provided by a couple of our original members and a Second Edition will be published on the website this summer. I am the person writing these edits and expect to get to it in July or August.
Federation continues to support Kolot Mayim financially. Morris continues to have success with his requests to Federation. Marilyn and Gilda Good have been most helpful in working on these requests with Morris.
Rabbi Lynn and I continue to be ably supported by Sam Margolis. Even though he is now in consistent demand as an author he always meets our timelines. Thank you, Sam!
You will hear in the Financial Report that our beloved Rabbi Lynn needs more administrative support if we are to keep her healthy, strong, and not burn her out. Indeed, this was one of the topics when your board held a special meeting, led by Ariel Louwrier and Gilda Good. This meeting was a goal and future-oriented exercise that we went through to try to establish where Kolot Mayim can go in future years. I know the new Board will be reviewing Ariel’s summary of our thoughts for the future.
I want to personally thank Rabbi Lynn. I doubt there is another president and rabbi in the URJ that work as well and as closely as we have. You and Aaron were dear friends of Jack’s and mine when we began this journey and the four of us remain so today. I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Jack – his support over the last four years has been unwavering and I could not have done it without him.
In closing I would like to thank all the Board members – some are staying on and others are leaving after having made their mark – I am grateful to you all in so many ways. We have accomplished much together, some of it during this very challenging Covid era – and probably most importantly, we have had fun working together and further cemented friendships. Toda rabah!