For those of you who weren’t present at Kol Nidre services, I wanted to share my message for the upcoming year (I apologize to those who have already suffered through this…).
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Howard Sislin. WMT has always been a big part of my life. I became a Bar Mitzvah here, and Jen and I were married by Rabbi Weitman here. Even as a lifelong member of the synagogue, it was not until my kids started religious school that I realized the importance of this Community. My parents were active members, and I feel privileged to carry on the tradition and pass it along to my children.
The New Year is the perfect time to look forward, to expand upon our well-established foundation, our extended family. These are difficult times for all religious institutions, and we are so fortunate to still have such a vibrant, active community upon which to build.
We have made many physical improvements to our building including new memorial boards, the outside sign board and kitchen appliances, as well as updating the chapel and the landscaping. As I look towards the future, it’s my goal, along with others I hope, to focus on growing our congregation. While we have a solid foundation, we need to attract new members; families, couples and singles. When I was writing this, I was thinking about why someone would want to join or rejoin our family. The word value kept entering my mind. This concept differs for everyone. Is it just a place to go for the holidays OR for religious school OR support of the Rabbi and community OR to socialize. We need to change the OR to an AND.
One of the new ideas that has been initiated is re-branding. We need to show who we are now, as well as who we want to be in the future. We have started putting more emphasis on marketing, focusing on social media, updating our website, and exploring the possibility of changing the name of the temple. I've put together a multigenerational Name Change Group to discuss potential new names for the synagogue. We will be keeping everyone posted on our progress and of course, we will have a congregational vote before any decision is made.
We are also looking for innovative ways to improve the fiscal health of WMT without inundating everyone with constant fundraising. Thanks to a few committed members, the Legacy Group was formed. I'm hoping you have received the brochure in the mail explaining alternate options to help our Temple and keep our legacy alive.
The last and most important component in achieving our goal is YOU. There are so many ways to get involved. Attending a social event or Shabbat dinner, volunteering on a committee or participating on an individual project, yes, even moving chairs or switching out our prayer books after the holiday. Get to know our new members and get reacquainted with old friends. The importance of this community has never been greater. We are living in a very polarized world. Our synagogue is a place for us to unify. I’m not shy and intend on personally getting to know as many of you as I can, and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. Again, I feel honored to be able to serve the WMT community and look forward to a positive and successful year. Shana Tova to all of you from my entire family.
See you in Shul,
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