Board Meeting Minutes 10.7.2021

Next BZ Board Meeting is Thursday, December 2, 2021, 5:30 p.m. via Zoom

Attendees:  Scott Israel, Tal Cohen, Jackie Rosenfeld, Bill Hillner, Roy Rosenfeld, Howard Kaplan, Terry Wheeler, Alan Lebovitz, Rob Cowan, Cara Weiner, Joe Kodsi, Mark Shapiro (12 people).
Also in attendance was Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg.
The Zoom link was opened at 5:25 p.m. and the meeting began at about 5:30 p.m.


I’m glad to see everyone here.  This is our second meeting of the fiscal year.

1.       D’VAR TORAH – Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg [RSR]:  Began by reading our three statements of Why, Vision, and Mission.  Before God destroys the world with the flood, I wonder what would have happened if Noah had stood up to God and said, “No!”  The sages said that at that time, prophets did not choose to fight back with God.  Noah could have saved the world.  Our actions and our inactions can be very powerful.  We choose to make decisions that can be impactful either way. 
2.   MOTION:  To approve the Board Meeting Minutes for May 6, 2021

         1st:  Mark Shapiro
2nd:  Alan Lebovitz
         Ayes:  All
         Nays:  None
         Abstentions:  None
        The motion was passed.

3.       MOTION:  To approve the Board Meeting Minutes for August 5, 2021

        1st:  Mark Shapiro
2nd:  Alan Lebovitz
         Ayes:  All
         Nays:  None
         Abstentions:  None
        The motion was passed.


          Please see the Rabbi’s monthly recap which was emailed last Friday, October 1st.  He will provide a monthly summary at the beginning of each new month.  Right now is an interesting time of focusing in the fall.  We just finished the High Holydays which were a big success.  We forged a good partnership with MZ with some programs.

          Focusing on October programs.  Blessing of the animals, and at least one other event are scheduled.  Doing a lot of outreach as much as I can, calling people on their birthdays, anniversaries, shifting to a more personal, relational engagement.

          Mark:  Excellent [written] report.

          RSR:  Tremendous amount of coordinated work.

          Alan:  Simchat Torah was amazing and together with the music.  What is the next program that could be like that?

          RSR:  A joint Friday night service.  Rabbi Lewis and I will be talking about this. We talked about Hanukkah, but I think we will do our Hanukkah celebrations separately.

          Scott:  Thank you to Rabbi Rotenberg who has been doing a terrific job.

5.       FINANCIALS, by Alan Lebovitz

          See previously transmitted report.  Questions?

          Due are 55% collected as of 08/01/2021.  Expenses YTD are under budget.

          Howard:  Where are the fees we pay to MZ for rent?

          Alan:  See line item called “Occupancy.”  $45K/year.

6.       EDUCATION REPORT, by Tal Cohen

          See previously transmitted report.  Questions?

          The feedback we are getting is good.  Susan Cominez is running Machanooga very well, and our community is more active this year.  A lot of effort is being led by the Rabbi re community programs.

7.       HIGH HOLIDAY REPORT, by Mark Shapiro

          See previously transmitted report.  Questions?

          Mark thanked everyone for their work including Amy Sandy and Brooke Brown as well.

8.       RITUAL REPORT, by Roy Rosenfeld

          See previously transmitted report.  No questions or comments.

9.       PERSONNEL UPDATE, by Scott Israel

          Brooke Brown has put in her resignation as of 10/29/2021.  This is a great loss as she contributes a lot to our office efficiency.  Per Amy, Brooke wanted us all to know that she really loves her job, but right now she just wants to be a full-time mom.  Her little boy is about 18 months right now.  She is doing all she can to prepare someone else to fill the position.  A job listing is on INDEED.  Amy:  We hope to hire by the end of the month.

          Tal:  Will it be posted locally to our community?

          Scott:  We will open it up to our community. 

          Amy:  Add to our weekly announcements.

          RSR:  The Shofar info has already been submitted.

          Bill:  Gave us a caution about hiring from within shul/community.

          Scott:  We will certainly keep that in mind.

          Howard:  There could be some qualified within our congregation, but historically there have been too many issues and those are harder to resolve.

          Amy:  An insider could be very resentful if he/she doesn’t get the job.

          Scott:  We will address any issues that we think may happen.

          No more questions were raised.

10.      McBRIEN ROAD UPDATE, by Scott Israel

          Net:  $312K.  We are using CubeSmart for housing our furniture, holy books and so forth.  Armstrong has the bigger items including the ark.  These costs are about $10K/year.

          Howard:  Of the $312K, is that going into a fund?

          Scott:  Yes, we will be writing a check to the General Endowment, and they will manage the monies for us.

11.      MEMBERSHIP UPDATE, by Scott Israel / Rabbi Rotenberg

          We have four new memberships to present.     

          MOTION:  To approve Liz Burton for membership.  She has been attending since July.

          1st:  Tal Cohen

          2nd:  Roy Rosenfeld

          Ayes:  All

          Nays:  None

          Abstentions:  None

          The motion was passed.

          MOTION:  To approve Soufer, Jessica & Aron (cardiologist), Mirabelle (K), Ben (3yo).  Doing Machanooga.

          1st:  Alan

          2nd:  Mark

          Ayes:  All

          Nays:  None

          Abstentions:  None

          The motion was passed.

          MOTION:  To approve Jay & Mimi Givarz (guy-verz’).  Rabbi met their son at Camp Ramah.  [Are they here only in summer?]

          1st:  Alan Lebovitz

          2nd:  Cara Weiner

          Ayes:  All

          Nays:  None

          Abstentions:  None

          The motion was passed.

          MOTION:  To approve Kai Olds. He will eventually be a dual member with Mizpah.  Will be going through the conversion class.  He attended some HHDs, attended Rabbi’s “Foundations of Judaism” class last night via Zoom.

          1st:  Roy

          2nd:  Mark Shapiro

          Ayes:  All

          Nays:  None

          Abstentions:  None

          The motion was passed.

          It was suggested that we do a new member minyan, or that we ask each new member to be involved with a Havdalah program or similar.  Tal also has two potential families for consideration.  He and Rabbi Rotenberg will talk off-line.

About 18:05 p.m.

12.      FUTURE HOME SEARCH,  by Bill Hillner

          Thank you to everyone who participated and helped with these discussions.  We looked at a number of alternatives, and then brought three possibilities to the Board, listing pros and cons of each.  See the previously emailed document.

          12a.  Purchase of a large existing structure which would be capable of housing a synagogue.

          12b.  Income-Generating purchase.

          12c.  Purchase of large home or small building on a larger lot. 

          Question (Alan):  One anticipated question [from congregants] is, Why not continue with Mizpah?

          Bill:  The sale of the land brought a $312K profit, we received donation of about $150K, and we would ask endowment to give us a total of about $800K to work with.  At least two members have suggested places to purchase, but we can’t realistically afford them.  We will probably have to extend our stay at Mizpah for another year [through 2023] to be fully prepared for an orderly move.

          Howard:  There is a lot to be said for being autonomous, but showing only three alternatives [may not be enough information for the congregation].  Did you discuss how big the building needs to be and how that breaks out?

          Bill:  We have not discussed specific square footage, but a number of homes we’ve looked at (4,000sf) would be more than enough given current attendance.  If you look at offices/classrooms that would be needed, a large home [could be satisfactory].  We are working to get some sense of agreement as a concept as our committee was asked to do.  I think 4-6,000sft for use on a weekly basis seems to be our best option.

          Terry:  We have investigated this carefully enough for these three options to be our best possibilities.  For example, there is a house in Ooltewah, more than 4,000sf, 2.25 acres, on a level plot where we could add on to building as congregation grows.  $675K for this property.

          Tal said we also need to anticipate questions about growth for children’s programming.

          Terry:  We cannot really find a suitable property within the city at a price we can affords

          Tal:  Chabad model is a very good model, but the timing may not yield us many options.

          Scott:  The building search committee has done a wonderful job in terms of what direction we want to go.  I do think we need to consider Mizpah as one choice.  It is the job of the Board to give the congregation choices.  We cannot be one-sided; we must present choices that include Mizpah.

          Alan:  Yes, include options, but the committee must make a specific recommendation. 

          Bill:  The third alternative was liked by many in committee but certainly not by everyone.  I thought Scott wanted us to present several alternatives.  Tell me what direction you wish us to move.

          Howard:  4-6,000sf, does not really pin down what our requirements are.  We need more specifics re room size.  Is this all on a single level?

          Bill:  It depends upon use of the building.  If we use a small area for shabbat and minyan, it’s a much smaller need.  Until we have a better idea from the board or the congregation of our needs, it’s hard to search for a specific place.

          Howard:  You need to determine your needs first, i.e., kosher kitchen or not, use for HHD too, or rent HHD place elsewhere, etc.

          Scott:  Will Rabbi, Amy, or other part-time employee be in-person at building, or will they mostly continue working from home?

          Howard:  You also need to know on-going maintenance costs for each choice.

          Terry:  We don’t have the time or the expertise to work up a full proposal for each concept of what the congregation wants.  What I’m hearing is that we are being asked to give a proposal for each concept.

          Howard:  Maybe we are at a point of hiring an architect to help us plan what we need moving forward.

          Terry:  An architect implies that we are building.

          Howard:  You may recall that we were sent a 14-page survey a few years ago asking what our needs were.

          Tal:  We went through feedback from the community.  There is a transparency gap between what we’ve come up with plus the shared space option (MZ).  We’ve already talked about all of these things in committee.  We can add columns about maintenance and more.  Our understanding is that MZ does not want us as a long-term tennant.

          Scott:  No, that’s not true.  MZ would consider expanding their building, adding an elevator, etc., to meet our needs.

          Bill:  So we should offer a single recommendation, including why MZ is or isn’t a valid alternative, plus consider maintenance costs and more.  We will go back to committee and bring it back to the Board.

          Scott:  Yes, that’s a good plan.  The committee has done a good job in putting the research down on paper.

          Roy:  As one who was dead set against MZ initially, now that it is a reality, we’re seeing good cooperation, etc., I am more amenable to shared space.  But note that Adoph Ochs specified in his (will) that if you do anything to change or diminish the original property, it will revert back to the city.

          RSR:  Also note that a young family and a single person joined BZ not because of an actual building we have but because of warm, fuzzy feelings.