North Shore Temple Emanuel
a Progressive Jewish Congregation
The High Holy Days are upon us, and with them, our Kol Nidre Appeal. This is a unique time in the calendar, one in which each of us reflects back on the year that has passed -- its successes and challenges -- and charts our way forward to the year ahead. Since the last time we gathered as a community for the New Year and our observance of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, NSTE has embarked on a bold path to the future.
We continue to be guided by our identity as a Progressive, egalitarian congregation that celebrates the spirit and contribution of every member. Our goal is to continue to be the North Shore’s largest, most vibrant and vital Jewish community. Over the past year, we have made great strides toward that goal.
We started by listening to you. Our Community Conversations last spring gave us invaluable and heartening feedback that helped us sharpen our vision and goals. It also confirmed that we are on the right path. We know who we are and where we are going as a community.
The journey continued when we appointed Rabbi Nicole Roberts as our Senior Rabbi in March. She has drawn plaudits from the congregation and greater community for her leadership, compassion and grace. As the first female Senior Rabbi in Australia, Rabbi Nicole continues to lead the way with her bold vision for the future, founded on our core values.
We have continued to strengthen our communal bonds through our Community Wellbeing Program. Under Rabbi’s direction, our amazing group of volunteers who phone and visit people in need, offering support and assisting them with everything from meals to transportation, is going strong. In the eight months through August, our Synagogue made over 545 calls or visits to members of the community who were suffering illness, injury, hospitalisation or bereavements, as well as to celebrate birthdays and simchas. Our dedicated volunteers have delivered Shiva plates to community members in mourning. We are grateful to be able to support community members when they need us most.
Our community is engaged like never before. Groups like “Boomers & Beyond” and the “Community Families Club” continue to host popular events every month. In July, we launched our newest program for members aged 60+, called the “Platinum Club.” To engage our teens and post-B’nei Mitzvah, Rabbi Nicole has created a Teen Torah Tag Team who read Torah on special Shabbatot with their friends and other teens. To make NSTE more inclusive of people with disabilities, we established an Inclusion Taskforce to facilitate access and inclusion in our community. We have invited a team of lay speakers who have addressed the congregation on relevant topics like, “Maintaining Healthy Relationships” and “Suicide Prevention.” Feedback on all of these initiatives has been enthusiastically positive.
Membership continues to grow, with twenty-five new member families who have joined or re-joined us in 2017 alone. We have twenty-seven B’nei Mitzvah celebrations this year, significantly more than in the recent past years, and indicators are that this trend will continue for at least the next two years. Our Meah Hebrew & Religion School, with its revamped and expanded curriculum, continues to attract new families who are committed to giving their children a first-rate Jewish education.
NSTE is at a unique and exciting point in its history. During a time of great change, we have strengthened our community in every way. We have built momentum and have much to celebrate, but the continued strength of our community depends on your support. While we have taken steps to streamline operations and shore up our finances, membership fees only cover half of our day-to-day operating costs. We rely on fundraising like the Kol Nidre Appeal in order to maintain the programming and services upon which many of us have come to depend.
Yom Kippur is a special time that affords us the opportunity to re-examine and reaffirm our priorities. Whatever the amount of your contribution, you can be sure that it will have a direct impact on a member of our NSTE community. This impact could mean a pastoral call to a sick community member, or helping to fund the Jewish education for one of our Meah students. During last year’s Kol Nidre Appeal, we had the highest number of contributors in NSTE’s recent history. This year, we ask everyone to participate in building on our momentum and further strengthening the community we all cherish. Your donation, of any size, is greatly appreciated.