June 2014

Congregational Annual Meeting

Sunday June 22 - Please join us as we approve our budget for the upcoming year as well as approve a few minor bylaw revisions.

Breakfast will be served at 10am and the meeting will begin promptly at 11am

New Educational Resources Available!

Recordings of the entire weekend services are now available online under the Education tab!

Presidents' Message

Our synagogue is a very busy place!  We hope you are enjoying our activities as much as we are! 

Our Bar/Bat Mitzvah students are leading our services beautifully on their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs!
Our Rabbi is having rave reviews on his Sunday morning class regarding the Personalized Prayer: Line by Line Liturgy from the Shabbat Siddur.  This class will start up again in August.

Everyone had a marvelous time at our 50th Anniversary Gala.  Our Gala Committee worked hard on planning a wonderful event for all of us and they succeeded 150%.  

Please attend our annual congregational meeting to be held on Sunday June 22.  At this meeting we will vote on the proposed budget for our Congregation for the upcoming year as well as approve a few minor bylaw changes.  Breakfast will be served at 10am and the meeting will begin promptly at Noon.

Have a wonderful safe summer and we hope to see you soon!

Sandy & Debbie

Rabbi's Message

Before my Rabbi's Message for this Shofar, let me just say, "Thank You Solomon Peretz for taking over the duties of getting the Shofar out each month! There are plenty of our members, me included, who have missed it, it is a vital part of Shaar Hashalom's communications!"

"June is busting out all over," as we are told in the Rogers and Hammerstein song. And along with June and the summer come vacations!

What are you going to pack? What is important enough to take with you on your jouney? Of course you will take clothing and your toiletries. Surely there might be a swimming suit in the suitcase. You might take a few snacks to eat in the car along the way. What else might you take along with you, wherever you go?

Don't forget to take along with you your Judaism! Of course, being Jewish is something you are, and it does not go into a suitcase. So, what do I mean by "taking your Judaism along with you on vacation?" I mean, just because you are out of your house, just because you are away from Congregation Shaar Hashalom, there is a lot you can do, Jewishly, on the road.

Remember, the Hamotzee is not just for Shabbat in our Social Hall. One recites the Hamotzee before any meal. But, if you should find yourselves out on the road over Shabbat, you can always remember the Sabbath by reciting the Hamotzee before you eat with your family. You can still do Shabbat on the road, with candles and grape juice and bread, it does not have to be Challah, but even if there is no grape juice or wine or candles available, one can still recite the Hamotzee!

I had a Jewish history professor at the seminary who said, "The first Jew to arrive at any given destination, was not the first Jew to arrive there, someone else was usually there first." Wherever you go, there will probably be a local synagogue. You might be able to have a new Shabbat experience! You might get ideas there to bring back to Shaar Hashalom!

Wherever you go, there might be museums of Jewish interest. Or there might be a new Jewish Community Center to check out, or an old synagogue to see.

Wherever you go, this summer, take your Judaism along with you, so to speak. And have a safe, happy Summer, too!

Rabbi Stuart Federow

Education Committee News

CSH Religious School had a great year!  Most recently, we celebrated the final Religious School Shabbat of the year with participation from every grade level, honoring our amazing teachers.  This was a very well attended service with a festive Oneg that featured the teachers' favorite colors and treats.   Thanks to the hard work from our dedicated faculty, the children led this service with knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm.  Todah Rabbah to the faculty, Katy, Rabbi Stuart and all the parents who volunteered throughout the year!  We are all looking forward to the Fall! 

Before Religious School begins in the Fall, however, the Vacation Torah School (VTS) Committee and Katy are working hard to create another year of camp that is both meaningful and fun.  We hope to see your kids participate the week of August 4-8.  Watch for more information on the new theme and how to enroll!

Mazel Tov to our 7th grade class on the many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs this year!  Nurit and Rabbi Stuart have been busy preparing this class for being called to the Torah and leading Shabbat Services.  David Better, Ryan McGuire, Matt Yellen, Asher Zittrer, and Macie Illyes have all done beautiful jobs completing this milestone to date.  We look forward to sharing more joy as we come together for Nathan Eastin's Bar Mitzvah this month and Amy Robertson's Bat Mitzvah in August. 

REMEMBER to REGISTER for Religious School!

- Forms have been emailed and are also available at CSH. -

Katy Izygon, Sharon Rosenthal and Jessica Yellen have been participating in the Shirley Barish Israel Educators Institute over the past four months.   They were selected as part of a cohort to create sustainable change regarding Israel Education for synagogue religious schools in the Houston area.   This month they will embark on a ten-day trip to Israel with seventeen other educators to network, study, and develop curriculum that is both contemporary and technologically relevant to the learners of today.  CSH Religious School will see the implementation of some of these programs this fall!

Board Members Meet with the CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

On Friday May 9, ten CSH Board Members and our Rabbi met with Rabbi Steven Wernick and Jay Weiner at our Synagogue.  Rabbi Wernick has been the Chief Executive Officer of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for the past five years.  During that time he has created a strategic plan for USCJ, he has been visiting synagogues, and he has been surveying the Jewish community. He presented much interesting data on the demographics of Conservative Judaism.  Part of his strategic plan is to form groups of synagogues that work together to create educational and leadership opportunities. Jay Weiner is our district's Kehillah Liaison Manager.  Jay has been at our synagogue a few times, but this was the first visit for Rabbi Wernick. They are both very impressed with our Synagogue members and our facilities.

Our luncheon meeting with Rabbi Wernick and Jay was really worthwhile. Rabbi Wernick is quite exceptional - personable, funny, articulate, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. Over the past 5 years he has had plenty of practice in honing and delivering his message. Isaac thought his explanation of how Conservative Judaism differs from Reform and Orthodox was both enlightening and discouraging. It was the best description that he had heard or read, but he was somewhat disappointed in how little the Conservative movement considers to be absolute and defining in its theology. Rabbi Wernick's leadership of USCJ in conducting surveys and developing collaborative groups of synagogues is excellent.

Here's what we took away from the meeting:
(1) We need to focus more on fostering human connections. Simply providing services (of all kinds) is not enough - although we still need to do that.
(2) The rabbi is vital to our continued growth. The rabbi was the number 3 reason that people stay in a congregation and the numbers 2 and 3 reasons that they join (#2 - rabbi's leadership, #3 - rabbi's vision). We need to invest in Rabbi Federow's continuing growth as our leader.
(3) We need to develop a vision and a mission. 
(4) We need to develop processes for making halakic decisions based on our vision and mission. The rabbi needs to lead that effort. The process needs to be transparent and open so that our members understand it (even if they don't agree or like it).
(5) USCJ will not give us solutions to our problems, but will provide information and connections to other synagogues. That can be extremely useful. It will show us other ways of doing things and will provide us precedent and outside support for decisions we make.
(6) We should tap USCJ for as much as we can get.

If you desire more information, please let us know.

Sandy Ostrosky and Debbie Angel, Co-Presidents
Isaac Rosen, Recording Secretary