[NOTE: For those of you who were not able to attend the Annual Meeting on June 11th, below is an excerpt of the speech I presented to the congregation. I look forward to seeing you soon throughout the High Holidays!]
It’s so hard to believe that I’m standing here before you at the Annual Meeting ready to take on the role of president! Over the past two years, I’ve worked closely with Judy Shkolnick, Rabbi Kaufman, David Muenchrath, the staff and board members who have assisted and supported me in understanding the many facets of Temple. And today, I am completely confident I can carry on the responsibilities of the presidency. Before I go any further, let me first take a moment to share a few words about our now past president, Judy Shkolnick. I’ve seen first-hand the passion Judy has for Temple. During Judy’s role as president, she successfully brought the renovation to what you see today, a beautiful and vibrant space that brings a whole new level of life to our temple. During Judy’s tenure, she brought a sense of doing things Jewishly and with the very best intentions. In that sense, we now welcome a community church that worships here on Sunday mornings and we recently welcomed Beth El Jacob to worship within our space. These types of accomplishments are created by someone who saw an opportunity to bring our community together, not just our Jewish community but the Des Moines community. Temple B’nai Jeshurun is a better place thanks to Judy’s efforts.
So Judy, on behalf of the entire Board, Rabbi Kaufman, David Muenchrath, the staff and myself, I would like to thank you for all you’ve done as president of Temple. We are so very grateful to have worked with you. Mazel tov and thank you! But before you walk away I would like to present to you a small gift of our appreciation. Several weeks ago, I contacted your daughter Jillian and I asked her what would your mom appreciate as a gift of our gratitude? She mentioned that you would enjoy a gift certificate to your favorite spa as well as some of your favorite bath and body lotions. As you step down as president and as you begin to excel in your new role in your professional career, we thought this sounded like a perfect idea. Not that you would ever need any time to relax and take time for just yourself! We hope you enjoy these relaxing gifts. Again, thank you!
My first realization that being president is right around the corner was attending the Scheidt Conference this past April. The Scheidt Conference is a gathering of president-elects from across the country who participate in a variety of classes and group discussions to help one another be successful presidents. A sincere thank you to the Mandelbaum family and the Mandelbaum Leadership Development Fund for providing me the privilege to attend this inspiring conference. One of the assignments at the conference was to think of one or two priorities that I would like to focus on during my tenure as president.
One area of focus will be to establish a sense of philanthropy here at Temple. Incorporating philanthropy is crucial to the lifeline of Temple, both now and in the future. The need to establish a legacy program is something no religious institution should be without. An important component of the project will be to develop thought-provoking marketing and establish a process to collaborate the importance of philanthropy to our members. I look forward to working with those having an interest in volunteering their time to this meaningful endeavor.
Another priority is to assess the current structure of our board, understand its strengths and weaknesses and determine ways to make our board stronger and more efficient. During Judy’s presidency, the board contracted with a firm specializing in Board strategic development. This same firm worked with Gabrielle Callistein and the Beit Sefer Shalom Board and was successful in many ways. Next month, our Temple board will be spending an entire day with the firm working on strategic planning which will include reviewing our mission and vision statements, outlining the role of each board position and creating processes to help communication between staff, committees and Temple members. Of course, there are many other projects that will be discussed and addressed over the next two years but these are two priorities that the board and I will highlight.
A subject always on all of our minds here at Temple are building maintenance projects. After meeting with Robert Dubansky of the Building and Grounds Committee and David Muenchrath, we’ve outlined and prioritized a handful of projects.
I also recently met with Edye Beckerman, our Social Events Chair, and Suse Cohen to begin planning several events for the remainder of this calendar year. We are well under way to provide a variety of events for all members of Temple. So keep your eye on the Bulletin and website for more details will follow soon.
There is certainly lots to do and I am excited and look forward to working with our wonderful Board, our now president-elect Gabrielle Callistein, Rabbi Kaufman, David Muenchrath, Wendy, Erin, Jake, Charles and you, our members of Temple.
So as another annual meeting comes to a close, we should all be very proud of the history and memories that have been made right here within these walls made of brick and mortar. Since the Temple was established in 1873, it has been a place of baby namings, bar and bat mitzahs, brotherhood and sisterhood events, weddings and yes, funerals. We’ve welcomed special guest speakers, listened to soloists, bands and quartets, applauded Purimspiels and cheered on those in matzah ball eating contests. It’s been a place where friendships have been made and a place where we can be accepted for who we are as individuals. For 144 years, our milestone events and the traditions we adore all have taken place right here. I encourage you to continue to support Temple in whatever way that means to you. In addition to contributing financially, there are so many ways to support Temple by volunteering a few hours a month, be it assisting on a committee or providing an article for the Bulletin or helping with an event. This sacred building and all that takes place here within these walls is not possible without each of you. So thank you for your continued support and for being here today. Thank you.
B’Shalom, Alan Adato