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BI@Home: News from your home away from home

Issue 2: June 2020

A Word from Rabbi Fellman
With the arrival of June, for clergy members, it means that the High Holidays are on the horizon. This year, the Holidays will look and feel different. COVID-19 has changed communal gatherings as we know them. We will not be shaking hands and hugging on Rosh Hashanah. We will not be inviting congregants up to blow shofar at the end of Yom Kippur. We will not host many Ushpizin (guests) in our shul Sukkah to share a meal. We will not be dancing with the Torahs and each other on Simchat Torah... Many of the things that we love most about being physically together - singing, embracing, sharing food and drink, are the things that may entail the most risk.

In the letter that we shared with the congregation on Monday, May 18th we shared that we “are working with our lay leaders, our Beth Israel Medical Task force, and our staff to discuss what it will mean for us as we consider reopening in the next couple of months. We anticipate that significant modifications from our old ‘normal operations’ will be expected and implemented at each step. We are eager to be able to gather, but are committed to doing it in a way that ensures the safety and wellbeing of our community. Please note that our BI Medical Task force has advised us against taking any steps (beyond planning) at this time towards reopening.” The holidays will feel different and we may still not be together in person when they come.

While our building has been closed, and remains closed for now, our community is certainly not closed. Our synagogue is not a building, it’s a community that sometimes uses one. In the past two months, we’ve had at least two services each day, multiple classes a week, support groups and social gatherings and more. We join to support the grieving, and to celebrate joys, and will continue to as we move into the summer.
The values which serve as the foundation of our community are also the values which will help us endure; Ahavah - Love, Rachamim - Compassion, Hesed - Care, D’agah LaZulat - Concern, Achdut - Togetherness, Ruchaniyut - Spirituality, Sovlanut - Tolerance, and Savlanut - Patience. Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh -- “We Are Responsible for One Another.” It’s our job to look out for the mental and physical health and safety of one another.

As our vision of the shul states: Welcome. Engage. Inspire. Grow. We will get through this and we will work to be stronger when we do. How are you joining us during this time? How are you engaging in helping us make this time count and keeping our community strong? What are you finding inspiring? How do you want to help us grow? As it states in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Sages) Im Lo Achshav, Eimatai- for if not now, when?

Our Building is Closed but Our Synagogue is Open!
Our staff are available to answer your questions. Call the Office at 508 756-6204 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
If you need to deliver something in hard copy to the synagogue (checks, documents, etc), we have arranged for contactless delivery. On the Chapel side of the synagogue (by the large parking lot) there is a lock box that you can use to drop off envelopes while social distancing. It is installed in the wall, so it can be accessed any time, whether staff are present or not. And, of course, you can also send your checks or other documents via postal mail.

Don’t Miss the Annual Meeting on June 10!  Nancy Spitulnik, President
Our Beth Israel Annual Meeting is almost here! It will be held on June 10th at
7:30 p.m. through Zoom. If you are not familiar with the Zoom program on your
computer, instructions are given below. You can also call in on your phone to
participate just by audio.

This is an important meeting for all of us. Information on our current financial
status will be presented by our Vice-President of Finance, Ira Gregerman. This
report is especially important given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on
our operating budget this year and next year.

Part of our work this year was to update and amend our Bylaws, which are the foundation for how the synagogue operates. The amended Bylaws have been approved by the Board of Directors. The new Bylaws must now be approved by the congregation. Steve Levine, the chair of the Bylaws Committee will provide a brief summary of the changes that were made, followed by a vote to approve. A summary of the proposed changes is included in this newsletter. If you would like a copy of the complete amended Bylaws, please contact the BI office. Thank you to all the members of the Bylaws
Committee who worked tirelessly to update and streamline our current Bylaws.

The last important business item is to elect the new slate of officers and new members of the Board of Directors. Deb Fins, the chair of the Nominating Committee, will present the nominees for these positions, followed by a vote to accept them. Thank you to Deb and the other members of the Nominating Committee for putting this slate together. If you are unable to attend the Zoom meeting to vote, an absentee ballot is available through the office. The nominees for the Board follow.

OFFICERS                                                DIRECTORS
President: Paula Sommer                           Joel Baker
VP of Membership: Howard Fixler            Denise Forbes
VP of Finance: Andrea Goodman              Jeremy Golding
VP of Education: Pat Bizzell                      Leah Honor
Secretary: Maxine Garbo                           Joel Kaufman
Treasurer: Jakob Voelker                            Nina Stoll
                                                                    Jay Freedman (1 year term)
                                                                    Steve Sosnoff (1 year term)
If you have any questions about the Annual Meeting, please contact me through the Beth Israel office. I look forward to seeing all of you at this important meeting.

News from the BI Sharing/Caring Clearinghouse!   Bunny Callahan
We have launched a new initiative called Sharing Caring, where we hope to join our community's helping hands. Many of us are already, or have ideas for, helping our community. We need to share these great ideas with each other to increase their spread. For example, here is our first idea:
Are you a mask maker? Possessor of tons of fabric? If you have already made masks for you and your family, how about making some for those who have no access to materials? If you can make them, we can give them out.
Not a mask maker? There is a local vendor from the Public Market who is giving away 2 masks for every one you buy. She even delivers. Donate 2, or all 3. Contact K Sense Co. For details see her website at
Do you have an idea for something to add to our Sharing/Caring Clearinghouse? Something you’re doing or would like to get people together to do? Are you looking for a way to help? Write to Dale Rosenberg at or call the BI office at 508 756-6204 and they will arrange for you to speak to Dale. She will add your project to the Clearinghouse Database, keeping track of activities and ideas submitted and matching people with activities. We’ll feature more of these activities in future
editions of BI@Home.


Steven Levine, Bylaws Subcommittee Chair
The Bylaws Committee was given the task of reviewing and updating the current bylaws with a focus on the expectations of the elected officers and the reporting structure and relationship of volunteers, staff, and clergy.
First, there are a number of wording and clarification changes proposed with no change in intent of the current bylaws. Also, the proposed document has been rewritten and reformatted to improve consistency and readability with no change in intent or meaning. These minor updates have been reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee and the Board. The specific wording can be found in Article VII - Article IX or the proposed bylaws. The current bylaws establish the President as “… the Chief Executive Officer of the Congregation and is responsible for the financial wellbeing and daily operations of the Congregation’s business affairs.”
The committee determined there was a need to better set expectations and identify the responsibilities of the President and is proposing the following:
1. Verify the personnel is in place and hired in accordance with Article VIII to meet the goals of the
2. Appoint standing committee chairs,
3. Ensure that elected officers and committees are meeting their responsibilities,
4. Work with the Chair of the Board to set the agenda for Board meetings,
5. Give reports at Board meetings and at the Congregation’s annual meeting on the status of the
Congregation’s programs, policies, and finances,
6. Schedule and preside at other meetings of the Congregation as needed,
7. Chair the Executive Committee and hold meetings to get advice, support, and assistance from its members.
The obligations of the Vice-Presidents were also reviewed. In addition to their functional responsibilities, the Vice-Presidents will have the responsibility to oversee related standing committees and will have the ability to form ad-hoc committees and make assignments to help meet the goals of the Congregation. Note that these changes do not preclude any officer or volunteer from taking on
additional responsibilities or tasks for the benefit of BI and the Congregation.
The responsibilities of the treasurer and the secretary as part of the leadership team are clarified. The proposed bylaws also highlight the roles of committees and the expectations of the chair of a committee. Committees should have clear objectives, and the chair of each committee should have a clear line of reporting either to an officer or other lay leader. The Bylaws subcommittee has recommended these changes, accepted by the Board, to establish a framework for BI that balances the work of running BI among all the officers, volunteers, staff, and clergy while allowing room for BI to change in the future within the established structure.

Summer BI Writing Group!         Pat Bizell, VP for Education
Topic: “How I Survive Catastrophe” First Meeting – June 17 @5:00 p.m.
Right now, we are living through a historic catastrophe, the COVID-19
pandemic. Our anxiety and fearful isolation seem overwhelming, and some
of us have lost friends or loved ones. Yet, most of us have survived
catastrophe before, whether in our personal lives, or in earlier historic times,
such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 1960s assassinations of JFK, MLK, and
RFK, or World War II.
How have you survived catastrophe in the past, and how are you surviving
the present crisis? We all have stories to tell, with wisdom and encouragement we can share with each other. I’d like to invite you to join a new writing group with your fellow BI congregants to reflect on your experiences. If you are interested, please email me at We’ll begin on Wednesday 17 June (one week after the Annual Meeting). I will host a Zoom meeting on 17 June, 5-
6:00, but if you can’t be there or prefer not to use Zoom, I can also email introductory materials to you. I will give you suggestions for how to start composing, and then we will meet every two weeks after that; the week-day and time can be changed if more convenient for most participants. In the zoom
group, two or three participants can share their drafts and get friendly feedback from fellow writers— usually very helpful in writing groups. I will also be happy to provide individual, confidential feedback. If you are not in the zoom group, you and I can converse via phone, FaceTime, email, etc.
Our goal will be to create short reflective pieces (~1000 words) to preserve our insights from tough times present or past for our family and friends, and, if you wish, for our BI community to share at a later date, perhaps when we are blessed to be meeting together at services face to face.
I look forward to hearing from you. --Pat Bizzell, retired Holy Cross English professor and writing teacher

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780