A Short Brief by Barry


President Barry Deutsch has so much to say and not always the forum to do so. Please visit his blog from time to time and see what he has to say on a variety of topics.

Other Posts
Temple Menorah President's Weekly Message
Reflections on my First Year as President

We"re approaching the end of our Fiscal Year which runs July 1-June 30. In just a few weeks, I will have completed my first year as President.

Never did I imagine the time, energy, and commitment required to lead our Congregation as President. It"s also been one of the most rewarding, inspiring, and spiritual years of my entire life. Being a Synagogue President has propelled me along a journey of personal Jewish learning and spiritual enrichment I would have never imagined before becoming President.

Every time I reflect upon this journey over the last year, I realize how much more there is that I don"t know or understand. I can"t wait to master learning Hebrew, dig deeper into our Jewish History, study Torah more frequently with Rabbi Silver, and begin to grasp the complex job of transforming a Congregation from Good to Great. I"m a little ashamed that my Jewish learning and spiritual enrichment took a back seat to other life demands over the past 4 decades. How"s the old trite saying go, "It"s never too late."

My journey began with a heart attack last Memorial Day weekend, on a Thursday evening, the same evening the Board approved me on the slate of officers to be presented to the Congregation as President in June. I survived a heart blockage that very few survive. Among cardiologists, it"s called a "widow"s maker".

As I reflect back on that experience, both laying in a hospital bed, and after, I have come to accept that God gave me a second chance for a reason. As corny as it sounds, I have come to believe that my mission %u2013 my journey %u2013 my path forward %u2013 was to help Temple Menorah rise up from the depths of financial difficulty and despair, achieve a level of hope, plant the seeds of a dream, and began systematically step-by-step moving our Congregation from Good To Great.

I hope you"ll join us next Thursday evening, on June 23rd, for our Congregational Meeting, where we will talk more about our successes of the last year, and our plan-vision-goals for the coming year and beyond.

Next to the heart attack, the second most significant event of the year for me was the Union of Reform Judaism"s Biennial Conference in November in Orlando, where I joined 5000 other Presidents, lay leaders, and clergy for 4 days of learning, worship, prayer, reflection, and personal growth. This is the engine that lit the fire under me. I owe Rabbi Silver a deep level of gratitude for "forcing" me to go. It proved to be an "eye-opening experience" and revelation. I realized I was ignorant, unaware, and fully lacking in preparation to be President. I could fill a book on what I didn"t know about effective Synagogue management and transformation.

I was astounded by the number of exemplary congregations enjoying success beyond our wildest dreams %u2013 and many of them were not the largest, richest, or most well-staffed. All of them had gone through over the last decade a remarkable transformation from Good to Great. All of them had been where we were in the last few years %u2013 some in much worse shape than Temple Menorah. With a dedicated lay leadership team and committed staff, all of them undertook a journey of transformation %u2013 nothing short of a complete cultural revolution.

We"re only at the beginning of our transformation and cultural revolution. Based on the successes of these other congregations, I am hopeful, encouraged, and excited about the future for Temple Menorah.

Over the last year, we"ve started a historic level of fundraising that has far exceeded my expectations. We have a long way to go of creating a culture of our entire Congregation viewing the success of our Community as everyone"s financial responsibility %u2013 not just a small group of givers. We have to move to a place where all of us feel the desire and responsibility to contribute beyond a basic dues level to creating a thriving community in which we all take great pride of ownership.

We refinanced our mortgage with an incredible level of hard work by our Board Member Jason Henry and Treasurer Phil Harding. We put $550,000 into the bank to help us transform our Congregation to a healthy, financially viable, and self-sustaining Community over the next 3 years. Our next challenge is "burning the mortgage".

Our Board and leadership has gone through a dramatic shift in the last few years, starting with the leadership of our Past President, Les Latner. I am proud to now serve with one of the finest leadership groups I have ever encountered %u2013 one that makes being President a wonderful experience. We are in very good hands with this group of capable leaders, now and well into the future.

We have begun upgrading our financial, HR, and administrative systems and processes. We"ve upgraded the caliber of our professional staff. The level of volunteerism has exploded across our Congregation %u2013 a big pat on the back to Nadine Flam, our Ways and Means Committee Chair, for bringing an extraordinary group of volunteers to the table. Our committees, from our Finance/Budget Committee to our Tuvia Policy Committee are beginning to become a core element of our success as a Community.

The temperature level of warmth, welcoming, and friendliness in our Community is on a giant upward curve. Our Listening Campaign of having intimate dinners and getting to know each other on a deeper level has had a big impact in volunteerism, connections, relationships, and fund-raising. We"ve only just touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg in relationship and community building. I look forward to this being one of my most important objectives in the next year.

I am indebted to the congregants I"ve met in our home for dinner, and in the homes of others who have been extraordinarily gracious to bring those whom they didn"t know in our Congregation to their dinner tables. I am indebted to our Angels, who have provided almost a $1 million in operational funding for the next 5-10 years through their generosity, especially Rebecca and Danny Rosenberg, Mike Kaplan and Rose Contreras, and Phil Harding. My last thank you for the year goes out to all our volunteers who have contributed to the success of our Congregation over the last year, and to our wonderful staff at every level, from Rabbi Silver to our custodians.

Over the next few months, I will break down in easily digestible chunks, what we"ve done in the last year, what we plan to do in the next year, and how our strategic plan will help create a financially viable, vibrant, growing, and engaged community %u2013 a community where you couldn"t imagine the "grass might be greener" somewhere else.

Once again, join me for a lively presentation and discussion about our future at the Congregational Meeting next Thursday, June 23rd. Shoot me a quick note to info@templemenorah.org in the next few days with your ideas, hopes, thoughts, frustrations, concerns, and questions about our future. If we don"t have the time to address your specific comments at our meeting, I"ll follow-up with you for a personal discussion. Together %u2013 and only together as a community, we can move from Good to Great.