Board Report to AGM July 2021
Our President, Trevor Collins, is currently recovering from surgery. We wish him a speedy return to full health. The Board would like to thank our Vice-President Diana Laufer who has compiled this report. Diana is stepping down from the Board after many years of dedicated and fruitful service. We look forward to Diana’s ongoing contribution on a number of committees.
From Where We Stand
A review of 2020- 2021 and wishes for 2021-2022
Once again, we are at the crossroads. At each AGM we assess the past year and plan for the coming year.
While in 2020 and to this point in 2021 Covid 19 has dominated our lives, relating to work situations, relationships, travel opportunities and pleasurable past-times, many memorable opportunities may also be recorded.
Shul open, shul closed, shul open and closed again.
Our shul is a community centre which allows us to unite, observing Orthodox Jewish practices. Together we pray, learn and share the good times. We celebrate the special occasions together and support each other during difficult times.
We are fortunate to have leadership from Rabbi Paul Lewin and Chazan Zvi Teichtahl. So much is expected of them to cater for all our needs, whether spiritual, educational or offering support or just being there to listen. This is very obvious when the synagogue is open for business, 30-40 congregants attend regularly. Kiddush provides an opportunity to ask questions or simply argue a point. It is also an opportunity to welcome new people.
Who can forget the celebration to share centenarian Lenny Lipman’s special birthday? It was such an honour to be present to hear Lenny recite Haftorah.
Rabbi Lewin sends out his weekly Drasha via YouTube and, together with Chazan Zvi, the Saturday evening Havdallah service is zoomed into our homes.
Rabbi's Wednesday morning and evening shiurim continue on Zoom
Our Youth Director, Jesse Klass, is assisting Rabbi Lewin with Bar Mitzvah lessons and also training our Youth Leaders in their roles. Danya Lewin is training our girls for Bat Mitzvah. Some social events were arranged but have been somewhat curtailed due to Covid.
Social, Cultural and Educational activities
Zoom sessions have included several travels through Israel with Rabbi Jonty Blackman, a truly gifted story teller, and an excellent interview with Dr Norman Swan, Australia’s foremost communicator on medical matters.
Several communal dinners have been held throughout the year, drawing up to 100 guests each time. Thank you to the sponsors who contributed yet wished to remain anonymous. We appreciate your contribution. This has allowed families with young children to participate.
A new initiative to encourage greater participation of Jewish women has been launched by the Synagogue under the leadership of Mirah Teichtahl. The first event of North Shore Jewish Women was held in May, a dinner with guest speaker Caron Kaplan. It brought together over 80 women from across Sydney. Thank you to Mirah and her team of North Shore Synagogue volunteers for making this event so successful. A further dinner has been arranged for August but due to Covid lockdown is being postponed. Keep a watch on the newsletter for an update.
The Rev. Katz Library is very well maintained, with many newly published books appearing regularly. The committee under the leadership of Jan Goldman now meets on Wednesday mornings once a month. Several new members have joined the committee recently.
One Chapter at a Time. our reading group, brings together our members and non- members. The focus is on short stories by Jewish authors. The range of stories covers wonderful authors whose works lead to discussions on childhood, travel, immigration, cultural exchanges. Meetings are always on the second Thursday of each month and are currently on Zoom enabling several participants to join us from their homes in the Eastern Suburbs.
Once we can resume regular activities without Covid limitations the monthly Connections Monday morning gatherings with interesting guest speakers will resume.
The family of the late Harry Brunner presented the Synagogue with a model of the Synagogue windows and bimah. Harry was a jeweller and created the model in silver and gem stones. It sits in the display case near the entrance to the Synagogue. We extend our thanks to the family.
Who are the people who share our premises?
Tzofim, the Israeli scout movement, meets each Sunday.
Yoga classes continue midweek, allowing for Covid limitations.
Friendship Circle runs programs for children, teenagers and young adults with disabilities. We have welcomed them to use our facilities for winter camps. Some of our youth leaders have assisted in running the camps.
For many years the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society has used NSS as the base for its activities. These include lectures, research and regular information gathering mornings to assist new members.
The classrooms once used by Masada College are now leased to 4 tenants, contributing to our income.
So what does the future hold?
Our choir continues to rehearse for the High Holydays via Zoom under the guidance of Dr Joseph Toltz in the hope that the Synagogue will be open for services. While the future is very uncertain, the choir is considering performing for us later in the year. It will be a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the contribution of our choristers and the music which unites us all.
Currently we are interviewing candidates for the role of part time Marketing Manager for the North Shore Synagogue. The expectations for this role are ambitious. We are seeking a fresh new image, improved communication both internally and externally, with the aim of growing participation and membership.
At the same time there are so many more activities we could introduce. Shortly we will advertise for volunteers to assist and ask for your ideas. What new ideas should we introduce?
A Board committee is evaluating how best to utilise our property assets.
Contracts for the new security fence and the associated security video surveillance system have been signed and the project is progressing towards construction. It has been a long and difficult journey.
A bathroom renovation project is under way at the Rabbi's house.
The Upper Victor Smith building has a sparkling new kitchen. This is used for food preparation not only for our own functions but is available for use by catering companies. Again, we thank the sponsor who enabled us to complete the kitchen.
Thank you to our dedicated office staff, Marion Blitz and Claire Sossen, and caretaker David Gibb who have worked through difficult circumstances.
A new Board will take the reins for 2021-2022. We thank the retiring Directors for their dedication to North Shore Synagogue.
To the incoming Board we wish every success in its endeavours.