I hope you enjoyed our Annual Asseyfa as I did. It was wonderful to see our membership share good memories, music and the values we hold in common. Thank you to all who contributed. It made for a wonderful end to our year and an inspiring launch for the year-to-come, our tenth as a community.
I want to you remind you of three logistical points that I made and then reiterate our learning theme for next year.
There are three logistical areas which we need to strengthen: membership; hosting; financial gifts. Successfully addressing these needs will secure our foundation as we move forward.
Membership: We want to bring up to ten new people into our community, people who subscribe to our mission and fit our community. At some point, you were that new member bringing your new voice, experience, gifts and wisdom – all of which enriched our community. Please reach out to someone you know who will do the same. And please let Caryl ([email protected]) or me know how we might help.
Hosting: We’ll meet virtually for some time. Give this consideration for when we resume in-person gatherings.
Some people have hosted more than they were comfortable with, while others thought they couldn’t host because of space or cost. To address this situation, we changed from Shabbat dinners to desserts, and no meal on Shabbat morning. (Two or three times a year we’ll still include dinner.) This eliminates a lot of cost and preparation. At the same time, we asked people to co-host – to share the load equally. That sharing should include the decisions, the effort and the finances. If your home isn’t large enough to host, carry the load with someone whose is. If you have space to host, share the load with someone who likes to bake or clean. We have other, smaller opportunities to host, like book and film discussions. Fruit or cheese or cookies and coffee are all you need to serve.
Once quarantine is over, we want everyone to take on the responsibility of hosting and/or co-hosting.
Financial Gifts: Our shared commitment is to focus as little as is necessary on money. We’ve done that. For the most part, it’s worked. But not yet well enough. Our budget is small, as it is intended to be. There is no fat there. One of our pledges is not to incur unnecessary expenses and we don’t. We’re mission-driven: everything goes to fulfilling our mission.
We have three sources of revenue: membership gifts; High Holiday tickets bought by members of our Extended B’Chavana HH Family; and our HH Appeal. And the response to all of these has been solid. However: we usually run out of money around April or May. Some members renew early to cover the gap, but that practice isn’t healthy. Added to that, we’ve completed the initial grant that funded our administrative assistant and now fund the position from the budget. Additionally, COVID presents unique challenges. So far, we’ve met them with the PPP grant and some early member renewals. 
We’re not in danger and we’re not in bad shape. We just want to do better – i.e., operate with a balanced budget. Our goal is to secure income each year that will cover our expenses, including a little bit for programming. In dollars, this means increasing our income by about 13%, or $10,000.
We know that with everything going on with COVID 19, this is not the time to change anything or to put new fees in place to reach that security. So, we won’t. We understand and respect the strong impact on our economy and on our members.
So: after the COVID challenge has been met & people are feeling more secure we’ll explore with you new sources of revenue. Perhaps there will be a modest fee for programs; we’re open to ideas. In the meantime, please consider this information with an open heart as you renew your membership and make pledges at the HH appeal. 
Membership renewal information was sent to you just after the Asseyfa. If you haven’t made your gift yet, please do that now. We expect from all members a gift that is generous while affordable.

“How To Be Human: Spiritual Wisdom for Living (at our age) In The 21st Century.” 
Rachel and I are excited about our theme for the year. This year’s theme, American Racism, addressed the world around us – and we’ll continue to pursue learning and action in the year to come. Our new theme will help us to look inside ourselves, identifying the spiritual challenges that attend to people at our stage in life and developing spiritual resources with which to meet those challenges.
New challenges and questions face us: what does it mean to close a career, or to choose a different career path? What is it like to live with parents gone? What wisdom do I want to pass on to my children? What does Jewish tradition say about death and dying? What kind of good life do I want to live now?
We’ve begun to collate books and films and programs to address these topics. We’ll also explore the wisdom of 20th century Jewish thinkers like Martin Buber, Joseph Soloveitchik and Abraham Joshua Heschel. If there are particular topics of interest to you, please let Rachel ([email protected]) or me know.
Our name, B’Chavana, indicates that we are intentional about the community we have fashioned and the lives we want to lead. We have succeeded with the first and provided rich resources by which you can achieve the second. As we enter our tenth year, I am thrilled with who we are and what we’ve accomplished and look forward to the upcoming ten with anticipation and joy.