A year of many changes at Beit Emanuel
Chairman Simon Hochschild reports on 2011
Another very eventful year has passed at Beit Emanuel, but allow me to begin by
wishing our community another year of peace and prosperity. As we again reach
this month of Elul, our Jewish heritage reminds us that it is a time of teshuva,
repentance. In giving a brief outline of our successes and perhaps some failures
may we all remember that we work for a common cause and our people are our
Rabbi Ash continues to provide us with excellent service and counsel. We look
forward to another year of success. Our staff under the leadership of Kito Holz, our
executive director, has had a difficult year working under trying conditions. Thank
you to our loyal staff for their positive input. We welcome Ilana Alroy (administrative
assistant) and Lizzie Badenhorst (receptionist) to our community.
Harriet Davis, Principal of the religion school, has brought new energy and direction into the
school, and we trust this was evident in the number of very successful Bnei Mitzvot
we celebrated during the year,and which we will continue to celebrate in the years
to come. Thank you, too, to the leadership of Netzer. Our pre-Bar Mitzvah and Bat
Mitzvah youth group has shown a steady increase in numbers. We need to ensure
that this trend continues as today’s youth will, in time, be responsible for the
sustainability of our movement.
I thank our Management Committee for the thankless hours, trials and tribulations they have endured. Everyone has pulled their weight admirably, but there is still much that has to be attained. Thanks must also be expressed to our Board of Guardians for their time and continued good guidance.
Planning is always a priority.We need to concentrate on ways and means of sustaining the Beit Emanuel community, and although we still have a few months to go before our next AGM, I am happy to report that our finances are sound, but like many other organisations,we too suffer from cash flow problems from time to time. Our wish list is long, but the simple message is that we depend on regular payments of dues in order to continue to offer you the services you have come
to associate with Beit Emanuel. Thank you most sincerely to those who have made additional financial contributions, but as usual, this is an on-going appeal.
It is difficult to evaluate oneself critically and admit to ones ‘failures’. Perhaps ‘underachievements’ would be a more appropriate description.We need to reach out more to the unaffiliated members of our community, and to try and stem the downward numbers with respect to membership. This statement is not only directed towards Beit Emanuel, but is also very evident in our sister communities. Membership is the lifeblood of the community. I appeal to each and every one of you to try and introduce one new member to our congregation a year. If only 30% of people were successful, the impact – per year – would be dramatic.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the year was the introduction of Mishkan T’filah. Much has been written and said about the siddur, and particular thanks needs to go to the SAUPJ for the work they have done in arranging access to this wonderful prayer book. In addition, thank you to Rabbi Ash for the way in which he introduced us to the new prayers, making the transition that much smoother.
Another major innovation has been the introduction of our new choir under the very able leadership of Avi Kanar.The new music and melodies have made our services more meaningful and enjoyable.
It is heartwarming to stand on the bimah on a Shabbat evening and watch the wonderful and appreciative way our congregation has reacted. The choir has undoubtedly assisted in attracting young adults to our community and this is reflected, in no small measure, to the very positive feedback from members of the Basic Judaism class.
Events at Beit Emanuel have been varied and well supported – especially the series of public lectures organised by the shul committee. Included in these lectures have been addresses by the Public Protector, David and Christine Auerbach at the annual Frans Auerbach Interfaith lecture, and Professor David Bilchitz on the morality of vegetarianism – to name a few. Our weekly Torah breakfasts continue to offer congregants religious stimulation,while Netzer has hosted several well attended fun and educational events. May they go from strength to strength.