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Annual Meeting Recap

BJ held its annual meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Below, you will find a recap of some of the main points shared, and you can watch the meeting here (the financial section has been removed).

“I am a different person as a result of serving you.”

Outgoing president Suzanne Schecter left us with powerful words reflecting on her service to the BJ community. Here’s a small excerpt:

Thank you—a million times thank you. I don’t know how to properly convey to our remarkable spiritual leaders that the gratitude is all mine, because my work with BJ has been the greatest honor of my life.

The third-century vision illustrates BJ’s constant need to move forward, to push boundaries, and it sets our community apart from most other synagogues. BJ is not simply a house of prayer—it lives and breathes; it has creativity, bravery, inspiration, and innovation coursing through its veins.   

I can imagine nothing more rewarding than serving BJ. Thank you—for letting me be in the presence of your holiness, for trusting me with our community, for listening, for teaching, and for making me feel like I have made a difference. It has changed me. I am a different person as a result of serving you—and the greater “us.” 

Watch Suzanne’s full speech.

Year in Brief

BJ members dancing at the Back Home Shabbaton.

We had a really strong year at BJ, with community members engaging both online and in person as we focused on building back Shabbat and togetherness through hundreds of programs and events.

  • 450+ registrants attended Back Home Shabbaton (10% from out of town!)

  • We served 1,150 community members at Shabbat dinners

  • 174 students registered for Kadima, and the new Shabbat Model program welcomed 100+ in-person participants regularly for Kabbalat Shabbat and 40+ for Shabbat mornings

  • Participation at Aviv events increased by 20%

  • 24 teens joined the Arizona trip, and 18 teens participated in the service trip to the Dominican Republic

  • Participants from 260 unique cities, domestic and international, joined us for our online programming

  • Our online minyanim continue to draw 50+ regular participants every day

Mazal Tov to Our Incoming Board

And a deep todah rabah (thank you) to our outgoing board members

From left, Ilene Rosenthal (incoming board president), Paula Kramer Weiss (incoming secretary and vice president), and Leah Silver (incoming vice president) at the Back Home Shabbaton.

Todah Rabah:

  • Suzanne Schecter completed her term as president of BJ, after leading with grace, dedication, and generous support. She will continue as board chair for the next three years.

  • Outgoing board members, Brad Abelow, Ellen Corenswet, Steve Koppel, Alan Mantel, and Ariel Zwang, for being an integral part of the BJ community and helping us navigate a very complex few years.

Welcome to our new board members and officers:

  • Mazal tov to new officers Ilene Rosenthal, President; Leah Silver, First Vice President; Yosef Riemer, Vice President and General Counsel; Dana Trobe, Vice President; Paula Kramer Weiss, Secretary; and Alex Margolies, Treasurer; who will steer us with their experience and wisdom.

  • Elizabeth Greenstein, Lindsay Jacobs, Ellie Krupnick, Alex Margolies, and Barry Waldman were elected as first-term trustees—bringing new insight to our already incredible board.

But this isn’t the only board recently elected!

  • We’re proud to recognize the new members of the Teen Executive Board, who will ensure that BJ teens—and by extension the whole BJ community—will continue to thrive.

Eighteen teens participated in our service trip to the Dominican Republic this past February.

Membership Renewal Season Has Begun!

We’ve had a solid membership year in 5783, exceeding our goal with almost 1,800 current member households, and look forward to another year of growth in 5784.

What to know: 

  • As we kick off the membership renewal season, it’s important to note that renewals will only be open to members in good standing.

  • Members who renew early will get priority access to High Holy Days registrationRenew by June 30 to be among the first to select your High Holy Days services when registration opens on July 17.

  • There will be a 2% cost-of-living (COLA) increase on the lower income levels and a 4% increase on the higher levels.

Kadima@BJ students creating art for a new family mahzor that will be used at High Holy Days services for families.

Preparing for the Yamim Nora’im (High Holy Days)

High Holy Days planning at BJ is starting to kick into high gear, with more updates to come over the summer.

What to know:

  • The Yamim Nora’im (High Holy Days) are just around the corner. Adult services will be held in the BJ Sanctuary as well as at Jazz at Lincoln Center, with additional Minha and Ne’ilah services at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (SPSA).

  • Family services will again be held at SPSA and our Mindfulness service for the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah will be in the BJ Community House.

  • We’re updating our guest policy so that members’ guests will no longer be required to sit with their hosts. This gives more flexibility to all High Holy Days participants, allowing members to have more space available in the Sanctuary and making it easier for guests to try out all of our other services.

  • If necessary, changes to High Holy Days planning due to COVID-19 will be determined in September.

Purim was back to standing room only during the communal Megillah reading and for “Shushan Night Live.”

Investing in Our Infrastructure

We shared updated details about tenants, construction, and timelines for the next few months and beyond.

What to know:

  • As previously announced, the IDEAL School will move out of BJ at the end of the school year to move to their own campus. Our new tenant is Beit Rabban, which will consolidate their two locations as they move into our building this fall.

  • To accommodate Beit Rabban’s needs, we’re renovating several floors of the Community House and relocating our offices to the sixth floor.

  • Riverside Language Program will remain a tenant and will continue to operate in the building throughout construction.

  • We’re also completing structural updates to the building, such as window replacement and facade work, and have a detailed plan for future improvements.

  • We’ve increased our investment in technology, including administering upgrades to Salesforce.

Aviv participants at the Aviv Purim Happy Hour. Aviv participation increased 20% this year and had multiple sold-out Shabbat dinners.

Building a Foundation For the Next Generation

BJ recently conducted a strategic refresh to evaluate how we can continue to evolve, flourish, and build a sustainable foundation for future generations.

  • We’ve made adjustments to our programming, changed the structure of our current staff, created new roles, and increased security.

  • We are increasing our engagement with key demographics and fostering in-person community-building for non-local members, while continuing to offer additional online opportunities for all.

  • We continue to reimagine and innovate in prayer, music, and ritual as well as to develop our approach to social justice—with a renewed focus on localized issues.

A call to action from our spiritual leaders: “Its not just the work of some.

For the last 40 years, BJ has known it needs to be more than a synagogue. As Rabbi Roly Matalon shared at the annual meeting: “We are a community that has big dreams, that engages people in a very deep way.”

In 5783, just 46% of member households contributed to the appeal. This year, we are aiming for 100% participation from our community. 

“Once you are part of this community, you are asked to step up, to step in, to do things and do things for others, to learn, to be on a spiritual journey,” Roly shared. “But we can’t do that unless we all participate in financially supporting this community. It’s not just the work of some.” (Watch Roly’s full remarks here.)

To build a sustainable future for BJ and the next generation, and to help realize the third-century vision that strengthens our core offering, we ask that this is the year that every household makes a contribution this High Holy Days season.