BZ Board Meeting Minutes Feb. 3, 2022

Next BZ Board Meeting is:

Thursday, February 3, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

via Zoom

Attendees:  Scott Israel, Tal Cohen, Jackie Rosenfeld, Bill Hillner, Roy Rosenfeld, Howard Kaplan, Terry Wheeler, Alan Lebovitz, Joe Kodsi (9 people).  A new member, Jessica Souffer, joined us for the first time as our new Membership Chair.

Also in attendance were Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg and Amy Sandy.

Absent:  Matt Kodsi, Mark Shapiro, Rob Cowan, Cara Weiner.

The Zoom link was opened at 5:25 p.m. and the meeting began at about 5:35 p.m.

OPENING REMARKS by Scott Israel

  1. D’VAR TORAH

Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg [RSR]:  This week’s parsha deals with the relationship with our Israelite ancestors.  Setting:  You have a home, and for some reason you are forced to leave it.  This is what happens in this week’s Torah portion.  In Egypt, they grew into thousands, which perhaps they could not have done in Israel.  God promised that He would stay with them.  I think that our search for a new home ourselves brings love, mutual respect, and kindness.  For us, it’s imperative that we bring God with us to our table.  Early Shabbat Shalom.

  1. MOTION: To approve the Board Meeting Minutes for October 7, 2021

1st:  Alan Lebovitz

2nd:  Bill Hillner

Ayes:  All

Nays:  None

Abstentions:  None

The motion was passed.

  1. RABBI’S REPORT

Please see the Rabbi’s monthly recap previously emailed and published on our website.

Main successes for November – Installation, a wonderful night for our community.  Shabbat Muffins, parents come to service, kids have programming.  Very successful so far.  Lot of kids 0-7 right now.  Upcoming Bat Mitzvah is Lilah Parker, 2023.  Also having a dedicated lay leader on board now who is going to help grow our membership.  New programs with Jessica and Aaron.  Re new programming, I have some algorithms to determine success of each program.  Going to try some new things in the spring.  Any questions?  Jessica is baking mini muffins for our Shabbat Muffins and parents.

  1. FINANCIALS, by Alan Lebovitz

See previously transmitted report.  Any questions?

The period ending 10/31 shows that our expenses are under by almost $6K, and our income is positive by $77K.  At this point, it’s a timing thing, we are almost mid-year [on our fiscal calendar], and we are in the black.  We can expect that to shrink in the coming months.

There was a question about Storage; no actual number is shown.  Alan:  This was entered  under Rent.  We will look at breaking that out; it would be good to separate them.

Scott:  Any questions?  Please email Alan or me.

  1. EDUCATION REPORT, by Tal Cohen

See previously transmitted report.  Any questions?  Let’s think about what we will do next year.  Susan has been doing a great job.  Plus we have a some future Bar/Bat Mitzvot on our schedule.  We are on the right path, and we need to keep the momentum going.

Question from Bill Hillner:  Any commitment from Randi Weiss for next year?  Tal:  She enjoys doing the online learning, the kids love it, it’s encouraging because my kids also take Hebrew privately and they’re not as excited as they are when they meet with Randi.

RSR:  We have three people who are paid to teach our kids:  BSI is 1.5 hours on Wednesdays, and Machanooga is 2 hours on Sundays.  As you know, Randi teaches, and Ari Sloan has been unbelievably helpful in the classroom.  Lilah Parker has a Bat Mitzvah tutor.  RSR showed picture of kids each making a face, and they had to “buy” the face parts by asking for them in Hebrew.

Alan:  Can we tell [our congregation] about how many kids are in each level?  Yes.

17:52  Introduction of Jessica Soufer.

She moved with husband, Aaron, from Connecticut.  They have two kids, 6 and 3 years old.  Their family is pretty much all back in the northeast.  The Soufer family is here because of Cara Weiner who influenced them in getting to know B’nai Zion and because of Rabbi Rotenberg.  Per Jessica, “It’s been a pleasure to get to know the rabbi, and I want to get involved.  We’ve planned an event for January 18 targeted to unaffiliated Jews.  I actually know a lot of them, some of the kids go to Machanooga, some don’t.  We’re planning “A Taste of B’nai Zion” with a sommelier to do kosher wine tasting.”  Jessica talked about the wine expert and his friendship with a rabbi in New York.  Another idea is “Jews & Brews,” maybe February, maybe a Sunday, 3-5, maybe during the week, …. Lots of stuff on the horizon to help people feel welcome and included.  Jessica grew up Traditional Reform, which is very close to Conservative.  We want to get people to know us [BZ] and be charmed by us.  She is happy to be working with Rabbi Rotenberg.

RSR:  I can’t stress enough how wonderful it’s been to have Jessica and her family be with us.

Tal:  We also need more programming for adults who don’t have kids.

Scott:  Welcome again.  You are the right person for this program.  I do want to remind everyone that we are all advocates for B’nai Zion.  If you get leads, please let Jessica know about them.

Alan:  For the next Shofar, could we feature Jessica as our new Membership Chair?

RSR:  The Shofar has already gone to press.  Our page features the January wine tasting event.  [To Jessica:]  Please send me a headshot of you and/or your family and we’ll make sure it gets into our weekly email.

18:02  Jessica signed off.

  1. SUPER BOWL REPORT, by Mark Shapiro – out of town.

See previously transmitted report.  Questions?

Scott:  This is our one and only fundraiser.  February 13th is Super Bowl.  It’s very important for us to support this program which will be held in Feinstein Hall at Mizpah.

  1. PERSONNEL, by Amy Sandy / Rabbi Rotenberg

As you know, Brooke resigned the end of October.  Our new assistant is Lauren Motts.  Amy is happy to happy to have her with us.  See the recent email welcoming her.  Professionally, her communication abilities to make our programs look great as you’ll soon notice, she’s easy to work with and very personable.  If a congregant calls, they will immediately feel welcomed and heard.  She has 11,000 followers on Instagram.  Lauren has created an Instagram presence for B’nai Zion.  She will have a learning curve when it comes to Judaism and with us in particular.  Using aa@bzcongregation.com  and BZVolunteer@gmail.com  Please reach out and welcome her yourself.

Scott:  I can also attest that Lauren is a wonderful asset.

  1. Good news to note:

Lynn Hochman donated a sizeable amount to BZ’s Building Fund.

Jackie’s brother and sister-in-law, Geoff and Carla Liban, also made a nice donation to our Building Fund.

Please recall that we had also received $10K from another source last year.

The Building Committee consists of:  Bill Hillner, Terry Wheeler, Tal Cohen, and others.

  1. MEMBERSHIP, by Jessica Soufer / Rabbi Rotenberg

See above.

  1. FUTURE HOME SEARCH, by Bill Hillner

Board asked me to make a recommendation, specify our needs, and consider the renewal of Mizpah lease.

We are seeking a large house with large piece of land or small commercial property with a large piece of land.  There are some available properties.  In terms of actual rooms that we looked at, we looked at a main sanctuary, a combination of sanctuary/social hall for 60 people, a rabbi office, three classrooms, a conference room, an administrative office, a coat room, a kitchen, men’s/women’s bathrooms with a lounge for the women’s restroom, etc.  A low estimate is 2200 square feet.  In the properties under consideration, everything is a lot larger than 2200 sf.  MZ has been very considerate, giving us a sanctuary, offices, opportunities to interact with other Jews, and the location is acceptable.  This is not going to be long-term though, it feels way too large, one tends to get lost, I have fears of losing members, there is no kosher kitchen, etc.  We’ve recently attracted three new members, but we’re welcoming them to Mizpah, and we want to welcome them to our own facility.  We’ve explored an autonomous building.  We need Board approval to hire a professional real estate agent to find an appropriate building.

Alan:  Thank you to the committee for all their work.  Personally, I feel we are welcoming new members to B’nai Zion, not to Mizpah just because we are in that building.

MOTION:  Move that we engage a real estate to begin investigating properties as outlined by the committee’s criteria so we can present it to the board.

1st:  Bill Hillner

2nd:  Joe Kodsi

Discussion:  Roy – cost to engage real estate agent?  Howard:  Commission is paid by the Seller.

Roy:  MZ has been understanding of our requirements.  Ex:  Rabbi Lewis and non-hechsher items on a snack table.

Alan:  Has the committee explored getting a kosher kitchen at MZ?  Bill:  No, the committee has not.  This was discussed some time ago, but not recently.

Scott:  Mizpah has said they are willing to have discussions with us about expanding their building.

RSR:  Re realtor, the benefit of having a realtor on board can help us explore what is available and how to do the next step.

Howard:  Sounds like you put a lot of thought into this, explored possibilities, we asked for a summary.  Last time, said we’d do a Town Hall, too.  Is that still the plan?

Scott:  Rabbi Rotenberg and I discussed this today.  It’s suggested that we do smaller group meetings in January by areas.  Signal, North Chatt, Apison, Brainerd, etc.  We can invite people to share their opinions, feelings, model how to have those conversations, etc.  There are trained leaders to facilitate such discussions no matter which direction we go, and it’s better to get a good feeling about where to go next.

Howard:  I recall the discussions in past years about non-Jewish spouses.  Should we have input and discussions before we make this motion?

Bill:  I’ll do what Board wants, but ultimately out of all the alternatives we chose this one.  Until we have something concrete to show, we can’t give details to congregants.

Terry:  We need to have something more than just the theoretical to present to people.  We need the real estate person to show us properties.

Howard:  I think having small groups gives people a chance to voice opinions of what they want in a building.

Others voiced their opinions.

The budget for the new location is $800,000.

HK:  Depends what the purpose of smaller meetings would be.  To say, here is a place.  Or, what do you want in a space?

RSR:  There’s Town Hall vs. small group sessions.  Some reasons for meeting are information gathering and some reasons are to model how to listen to each other.

Alan:  Perhaps we could call the meetings by another term.

Bill:  I’m asking for someone to help begin looking for properties.  When and if we find something, then we can present specifics to the board and figure out the next step.  All we need now is approval to hire a real estate agent.

In favor:  Seven

Against:  One

Abstentions:  None

The motion was passed.

Any more discussion?  I saw none.

  1. RENEWING MIZPAH LEASE, by Scott Israel.

Renews June 30th.  I am asking our Board to approve a one year, month to month lease with Mizpah.  Any discussion?  Tal mentioned that short-term, MZ is a great option.

MOTION:  To renew a one year, month-to-month lease with Mizpah Congregation.

1st:  Terry Wheeler

2nd:  Alan Lebovitz

All in favor:  All

Against:  None

Abstentions:  None

  1. GOOD & WELFARE – began at 6:52 p.m.

Our next Board meeting will be Thursday, February 3, 2022 starting at 5:30 p.m.