Board Meeting Minutes: August 5, 2021

Next BZ Board Meeting is:

Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6:30 p.m.

Place to be determined.


Scott Israel, Tal Cohen, Jackie Rosenfeld, Bill Hillner, Roy Rosenfeld, Howard Kaplan (6 people).

Also in attendance was Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg.

Absent:  Terry Wheeler, Matt Kodsi, Alan Lebovitz, Rob Cowan, Cara Weiner, Joe Kodsi, Mark Shapiro (7 people)

The Zoom link was opened at 6:20 p.m. and the meeting began at about 6:35 with Scott welcoming everyone to our “new” board.


Thank you so much for joining us today.  It’s very important to serve on B’nai Zion’s Board.  We represent the congregation and need to make the best decisions that we can.  We reevaluated our governance and updated our bylaws.

Scott then asked Bill to read our Why, Vision, and Mission statements.  Bill mentioned that a Building Committee meeting was held last night (August 4th) and included information about cities that make their shuls relevant, outside the typical walls of traditional meeting places.  Extended communities are at the core of our own statement.

Scott:  Our new rabbi, Samuel Rotenberg [RSR], began July 1st, and has been doing a wonderful job engaging us in services, High Holydays [HHD], and learning about us.  He will now teach us a little Torah.


Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg [RSR]:  This week’s Torah portion is about embracing change.  In desert, people could only eat meat if they brought it to the altar for sacrifice.  That may have worked in the desert, but what about now?  In Deuteronomy, it’s speaking to a community that will be living very far away from the religious center.  In Leviticus, they could sacrifice meat and take it home.

For us today, it’s permission to recognize what are the major differences now, how are we encompassing change, both in our Judaism, in B’nai Zion, and how [these changes] match our values.  We have two main steps in front of us:  First, being honest with where we are at, and second is being honest about does this serve our values and does it serve us now?

Thank you, Rabbi.

And thank you for helping us with the search for a new building.


The only complaint I’ve heard about is that there needs to be more guitar!  I think we’ve had a relatively smooth beginning.  For the July 2nd/3rd soft opening, about 70-80 people attended.

Another success was when I first got here was a local retired pastor reached out to me, met for coffee, gave us a $10,000 check towards our building.

We have three new memberships:  a young family, a single membership, and a dual membership.

BSI is up and running.  We have updated our public relations [on the website] to make us look like a family-fun and educational program.  Eytan and I designed a new program.  We have eleven kids enrolled in BSI which starts in two weeks.  Ari Sloan will be a teacher’s assistant.  The website has been updated, and now the membership application is available prominently on our website.  We’ve had more Facebook engagement, and our posts are now getting more attention.  Shabbat in the Park has had attendance of at least 30, half of whom are kids.  For the fall, goals include Family Engagement (2x month), adult education (literacy, Judaism 101), and a few other things I’d like to do.  One big fall program with a speaker would be desirous.  We are focusing on the High Holydays and fall holidays.  The BZ Living publication is in progress.

Tal:  Shabbat in the Park was a big hit with many folks.  Singing, playing in the park – keep doing it!    

RSR:  Next one is August 20th.  When it gets colder and Shabbat comes in earlier, we can do it in the Mizpah garden or a similar venue.  The love-themed Shabbat was nice and well received.

Scott:  Thank you, Rabbi.  The most important thing is that we are involving our young families, and we are enjoying each other’s company.  You,Tal, and Eytan have done a great job.

Tal:  Susan, the Machanooga leader [title is Rosh Nooga], is doing a great job.  She is a Mizpah employee.  We have advisory meetings and are trying to establish a good structure, content, curriculum, etc.  Rabbi, another compliment to you is that you came in and hit the ball from the get-go with new programs and new ideas.  Please don’t take on too much by yourself.  Make sure the community is involved in helping you.

18:54 p.m.  Howard Kaplan joined us.

Tal:  We have a Wish List for Machanooga which includes equipment for the classrooms and the school.  Items range in price from $5 to several hundred dollars like a TV for a classroom.


Mark Shapiro was out of town, so the report was given by Rabbi Rotenberg.  HHDs will be held at the Federation.  Hila and I meet weekly now, and many details are being worked out.  Rabbi mentioned committee members (Roy, Jackie, Ruth, Mark, …).  We are in a good place, and we are on top of our responsibilities.

RSR:  Plan B – Don’t anticipate being totally virtual unless local ordinances require us to do so and if someone in our group gets Covid and has possibly spread it to others in our group.

Bill:  What about kids’ programming?

RSR:  RH1 will be a rabbi-led program, snack, Randi is doing games, and we will have Happy Birthday to the world with a magician.

For YK:  Inbal will do ½ hour with kids, snack, etc.

Simchat Torah:  We will have a joint Simchat Torah program with Mizpah.  We will have a band with joint BZ/MZ members, hakkafot, etc.


Scott:  Update on McBrien Road Property.  The official Close date is August 20th.  Arks will be housed at Armstrong and shall be picked up next week.  We have rented two or three climate-controlled units on McBrien Road for storage of some furniture.  Next Thursday we will be completely out of B’nai Zion.  In January 2021 we had a good-bye service to the building.  Next week’s chapter will be closed, and we will begin a new, exciting chapter of BZ.


Bill:  Update on Building Search Committee.

[Bill complimented Scott’s work as way above and beyond the normal assigned duties.]

Building committee has met about six times.  General discussion about where do we want to see ourselves, initial discussion along those lines.  In process of finalizing a charter for committee, hope to present at next Board meeting.  Goals are to figure out the budget, down payment, determine our needs, safety, size, parking, etc.   Hopefully we have a consensus.  Learned out what is going on in other parts of the country.  Looking at real estate options from local Chattanooga market.  You are all ex-officio on this committee, so let me know about any possible properties/locations you might come across.


Scott:  Getting more people involved with BZ is essential.  Marketing is key.  This is one of my biggest goals this year is to get a Membership Chair, not only to bring in new members, but also to “care” for existing members.  We need to promote the presence of our terrific new rabbi as well as our need for a membership chair.


Rabbi:  A note about Volunteers. 

[Jackie is to draft a charter for the Membership Chair and a Volunteer Chair.]

We need to celebrate our volunteers.  We need to thank them thoroughly.  A congregant reached out to try to celebrate Reuben Dubrow.  It’s great to celebrate him specifically, but also to celebrate others who have volunteered over the last 18 months.

Bill:  We did a formal dinner party for Reuben when he turned 90 years old.

Also, we’ve had a tradition on Simchat Torah of honoring two volunteers [last Torah portion of the Hebrew year and first Torah portion of the new Hebrew year].

Howard:  How about a special kiddush for anniversary of Reuben’s haftorah?

Scott:  I need your help to make sure the Board does its good work, might need some guidance, help with different projects.  One person can’t do it alone.  I like the word “Teamwork” a lot.  If you have any suggestions about how our work gets done, please let me know.

19:15 p.m.

Open for Good & Welfare.

(BZ Board Meeting Notes 20210805 final)