Halsted-webIt is hard to believe that with the arrival of spring, the midpoint of my term as President of Temple Israel is quickly approaching. The High Holidays, Chanukah and Purim have come and gone, and Passover is here. It seems we hardly skipped a beat with the move and the congregation has seamlessly settled into continuing the traditions from our years at Cass Street, while also starting new ones at Sterling Ridge. I hope we all feel quite at home as we look forward to starting our third year in our new building in August.

Looking back over the past few months it is worthwhile to highlight some important accomplishments. First and foremost, the sale of the Cass Street property has been completed and the building will become the new home of the Omaha Music Conservatory. I think we can all be glad that the Cass Street building will be preserved and provide a wonderful home for the Conservatory. The Art Committee, under the guidance of Todd Simon, is continuing its work on implementing its plan for display of both art and archival material. The new sculpture at the entrance to the building literally creates links to our congregants’ lifecycle events and will be a wonderful new tradition for Temple Israel over the years to come.

As many of you know, there have been challenges with maintenance of the Temple Israel Cemetery grounds, due in large part to the demise of the irrigation system serving the lower level of the cemetery. I am very pleased to report that with generous funding from the Ike and Roz Friedman Foundation at the direction of Donald, Adam and Sarah Yale and Susan Cohn and an equally generous donation from Tom and Darlynn Fellman, a new irrigation system will be installed this spring. The new irrigation system along with some important changes in the maintenance schedule and engagement of a new service to provide quality groundskeeping care, should maintain the cemetery in a state respectful for those who are laid to rest there and their families. On behalf of our congregation, I extend our deep appreciation and thanks for their generous contributions.

Looking forward, in May, Temple Israel will be hosting the OTYG Spring Chavurah and will be welcoming some 200 youth for this gathering. This is a great opportunity to showcase our wonderful new synagogue, support our teens and enhance Temple Israel’s respected reputation. I encourage everyone to volunteer to help with this event in whatever capacity they are able.

Finally, in the next few months, the congregation, led by the Board of Trustees, will embark on the search and selection of a new senior Rabbi. The planning is underway for this monumental task, which the Board has elected to call, “A year of Reflection and Celebration: Moving from Strength to Strength”. In preparation for this work, Rabbi Stephen Einstein, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA, has been invited to lead a Board retreat in April. The retreat will focus on issues related to Senior Rabbi transition and will help the Board contemplate and prepare for its work and leadership of our congregation as we go forward with our transition. Subsequent to the Board retreat and completion of the planning of the transition process, I will be sharing the details in a letter to our congregants.

Our synagogue is alive with a great number of activities each month. I urge all to come and experience any and all of these that may interest you! Take advantage of our wonderful building and the energy inside its walls. It is my privilege to serve as President of our congregation and I want to extend my thanks to our clergy, professional staff, teachers, volunteers and congregants for their support and for their dedication to the work that enhances the life of our congregation. I wish you all a Happy Passover!