Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto

Shari Zuckerman’s AGM speech

Temple Sinai Annual General Meeting
Monday, June 21, 2021
Presidents Report by Shari Zuckerman

Welcome to the Annual General Meeting. I am pleased to inform you closed captioning is now available at Temple Sinai.

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This year has continued to provide challenges due to the pandemic. Yet, we are cautiously optimistic for a return to a less restricted lifestyle as the availability of vaccinations increases and new Covid case numbers decrease in Canada.

Two years ago, I was honoured to be installed as Temple Sinai president. I spoke about the three key initiatives of our leadership team:
The health and safety of our congregation, engagement of our members and the financial sustainability of Temple. Tonight, I want to take the opportunity to provide you with an update on our efforts in these key areas.

The health and safety of our congregation, staff and clergy remain a top priority. We continue to follow all public health guidelines to keep our staff, clergy and community safe. That is our mandate.

The security task force chaired by Rhonda Cohen, our committed and dedicated board member, has been working diligently with Mitchell Schnier, Rayner Conway, Ryan Clow, Director of security at Federation and an Israeli security consultant in developing a comprehensive security plan for Temple Sinai. We are anxiously awaiting approval for funding from the federal government on the Security Infrastructure Program to move forward with increased security capital improvements to our building and protocols for our community. You will see a 10% health and security levy on your upcoming renewal invoices. Please note these funds are necessary to meet the growing needs of the health and safety of our members as we look forward to welcoming you home to the building as soon as possible. As we move forward with security plans, members will be kept updated.

Engagement of our members

I commend our dedicated staff and clergy on their commitment to delivering outstanding relevant content to our community and beyond. Online offerings, drive-through events and home deliveries are a few of the ways we have celebrated lifelong traditions in untraditional ways. The engagement of our members has increased in ways like never before. Our staff and clergy have continued to provide online programs and services for every age and stage.

I want to thank you, our devoted members, for your trust and your patience as we navigate our path ahead. Your willingness to participate has enabled our community to remain connected.

Over the last year, here are some of our average attendance statistics:
Kabbalat Shabbat: 130
Shabbat morning: 150
Pesach: 386
Purim: 607

These are just to name a few. Kol HaKavod to our entire congregation for signing up and logging on.

Over the last year, we have asked for your opinion. Temple members have had the opportunity to participate in three surveys: The 2020 Post High Holy Days Survey, the Engagement Survey and the Membership Survey. Your responses help shape programming to ensure we continue to create experiences that meet our members’ needs.

Here are a few responses from the surveys that I’d like to share with you:

In the 2020 Post High Holy Days ervice questionnaire, the majority of members responded, they were extremely satisfied with the High Holy Days experience.

In the Membership Survey, the top responses to the question: “Why I became a member of Temple Sinai” were the Temple Sinai clergy and wanted to be a part of the Jewish community. In addition, the majority of members indicated that they are extremely likely to recommend TS to a friend and a majority of members felt that membership at Temple Sinai has inspired or supported them in developing a deeper sense of belonging to a community.

In questions regarding TS leadership, those who responded strongly agreed that TS leadership makes them feel welcome and represents their interests.

Thank you to all who have responded to the surveys. Your input is valuable and makes a difference. We look forward to continuing to hear from you. I thank Johanna Novis for her professional leadership as Director of Community Engagement and Ruthe Swern, Director of Communication. We are fortunate to have a strategic member engagement task force, led by Vice-President Lori Miller Pike and a Membership Committee chaired by board member, Arla Hamer. The partnership of professional staff and lay leadership remains committed to the engagement, retention and support of our members.

Our current number of membership families is 1489

Financial Sustainability

The Budget and Finance committee chaired by our treasurer Brian Simon has worked in partnership with Ronna Rubin and Rayner Conway. The dedication of consistent, prudent financial leadership has enabled Temple to weather the unknown faced by the pandemic. Brian, chair of the Financial Task Force has provided financial updates to the board monthly. These updates included constantly changing government subsidies, updates to revenue stream projections, and multiple budgeting scenarios. These monthly updates allowed the board to be apprised of changes on a regular basis in order to be effective at this critical time.

Brian will provide a financial report tonight. On behalf of the congregation, thank you, Brian and the Finance Committee for your outstanding work.

As the pandemic provided great uncertainty, our donors responded. Our donors stepped up to support the Temple and our community in ways like never before. Our Fund Development Task Force led by our Executive Vice-President Mike Fraleigh, in partnership with Ann Rosenfield, our Director of Development, created ways for members to support and respond to the challenges faced by many in our community. Tonight, Ann will provide a Fundraising report. To all of you who supported the Temple over the years and at this challenging time, Thank you. We could not be where we are without you.

As you can see, our priorities have remained consistent. In 1954 Our mission was to ensure all those who wish to be members, regardless of their financial situation, would have access to membership, which remains the same today. Thank you to our members for keeping that dream a reality.

Looking ahead

As we look forward to brighter days ahead, we look forward to welcoming you home to Temple as we plan for in-person offerings at the end of the summer. We will be updating our members with detailed plans as they become available. Our current plan includes a tent installed in late summer for limited attendance at programs and services.

While things continue to improve, we aren’t in any position to return to the normal we knew. We are planning for online High Holidays, with some in-person opportunities in accordance with public health guidelines. Reopening plans will continue to be made with the priority of the health and safety of our congregation, staff and clergy.

It will be wonderful to see you in person soon.

As we look ahead, our Temple Sinai 2.0 Task force, led by Mariana Catz and Rabbi Dolgin, continues to work to develop a long-term vision and strategy guided by our values which make Temple Sinai the inclusive, caring community we have always been and will continue to be in the future. I thank you both for your dedication and leadership.

Temple Sinai is fortunate to have an extraordinary team of lay and professional leaders. Our volunteers, teachers, peer mentors, Torah readers, Sinai Connections, Renaissance Group and choirs all make Temple Sinai the warm welcoming home it is. I thank you all for your support of our community.

To our board of directors, you have served at a challenging time. I thank you for your guidance, support and oversight. The requests for your time, expertise and resources, have been many. Most of those requests have come personally from me, and I thank you for responding. Under the dedicated leadership of our nominating chair and Past President Neil Abramson, the nominating committee’s priority remains to recruit board members and prepare for succession planning. Thank you to our four nominees for your willingness to serve in leadership.

Our governance continues to be a priority. I thank our Vice President Bram Costin for his leadership in updating the constitution to meet the current needs of our congregation. Bram will be presenting the proposed amendments for approval.

I want to thank our members, donors, staff, clergy and fellow board members; it has been my privilege to serve the congregation, especially during this time of great need and uncertainty. Thank you for your trust and your support.