The Annual General Meeting of Beit Emanuel went off smoothly on Thursday night, with a good attendance and no dissenting voices from the floor, thanks to a positive financial report from Treasurer Ian West. The meeting, ably chaired by Professor Merle Williams, went through its business in record time.
The newly elected committee for 2017 consists almost entirely of experienced people who have served previously on management, headed by Liebe Kellen as Chair and Bianca Shakinovsky and Hester Hollander as Co-Vice-Chairs. Ian West continues as Treasurer.
Outgoing Chairman Irwin Manoim described the major decisions of the year, including protracted negotiations to sell a portion of the property to our neighbours PPS, which fell through when they declined to meet our price. An attractive new option, still under negotiation, is to rent the courtyard, boardroom, offices and garden to the Mina Lopato Nursery School, which brings a compatible organisation with a reputable name on to our campus. Manoim praised Rabbi Saa’ar Shaked for his dynamism and for bringing many new members to Beit Emanuel. He also praised the teaching staff for the outstanding improvement in the quality of our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
Rabbi Shaked himself talked about how Beit Emanuel had almost collapsed 24 years ago, and how it has pulled through to again become a successful congregation. He talked about how new young people are coming in to the congregation and how many weddings and baby-namings we have had. In the month of January alone we had ten new families joining. He also praised the work of the full-time staff of Beit Emanuel in supporting him.
Treasurer Ian West gave a clear picture of the income, expenses and financial prospects of the synagogue. He urged continued vigilance when it comes to expenses, as well as continued efforts to secure other sources of income and organise fund-raising events. Maintenance work had been stepped up following the severe hailstorm in November 2016 and the end of the PPS negotiations, and will continue into 2017.
Former chairman Diane Fine, who was elected to the Board of Guardians, presented a gift from the congregation to Richard Mkhabele, who retires this month after 45 years of service, going back to the days of Rabbi Norman Mendel. Outgoing member of the Guardians, David Fienberg, who led the negotiations with PPS, was also presented with a gift in appreciation of his leadership through difficult negotiations.