January 2016


President's Message

2015 was a very successful year for our congregation. I want to thank Rabbi Federow, the board of directors and trustees and everyone else who helped make it so great for their tireless efforts throughout the year – you have been awesome to work with!

2016 however will not be a cakewalk for us – we are going to have to face some significant issues including the repainting and repair of our building and the repair or replacement of our parking lot. We will also be taking a look at our services and making sure that they are meeting the needs of our members – we won’t take away the traditions that make us what we are but we will be looking at modernizing some aspects of them. We will also be taking a hard look at our approach to our interfaith families – we want to make sure that they feel just as welcome here. Thank you for your support and please remember that my door and those of all our board members are open to you!

Rabbi's Message


Before I begin any speech like this one, where I am going to reprimand and admonish the congregation members, I usually begin by saying, Prepare to Duck! However, since the attendance at our Congregational Meeting was low, and since I feel that the entire congregation needed to hear it, I’ve asked it to be put into the Congregational Bulletin. Here are my remarks for my Rabbi’s Report:::

Yesterday, I was wondering what in the world I should be talking about as my Rabbi’s report for this congregational meeting. I was wondering, of course, until I was sitting at the Kiddush Luncheon with a few people and the topic came around to gratitude and to saying ‘thank you,’ and how absent it is in our society. Sharon Rosenthal was talking about saying thank you, and showing one’s gratitude to those who rarely hear it, and, well, at the risk of repeating myself, because I know I speak on this every so often, it has been on my mind a lot lately, and so I want to speak to it again. Because it is detrimentally missing here at Shaar Hashalom.

In that conversation, I said, and I will say it here again, Saying thank you is a way of not only showing one’s appreciation for something, it is also a way of saying that one hopes that it is repeated, that the act is done again. Thank you, means I appreciate what you did, and also please do it again!

But Sharon was right, there are not enough expressions of thank you and of appreciation in our world, and that is unfortunately especially true at our congregation, and so many people do so much at our congregation and for very little, if any recognition. They see a need, they fill that need, and then go on to the next need they recognize. 

And that is great, Thank Gd they do, but also thank them that they do.

Now, believe it or not, since my point is NOT to have me say thank you to them now individually or collectively, but rather to have YOU to say thank you to them individually over the next year, I am not going to name anyone. I am saying this, here and now, as my report, because I see it as a severe lack in our congregation. It is a common complaint I hear from an awful lot of people. So I am speaking of it now.

Yes, every year we have a Congregant of the Year award that is given to worthy people or to a worthy person, but I am quite sure that there are those who are sitting in the pews every Rosh Hashanah, who want their names to be read. 

They believe, and rightly so, that they deserve such an award, but not everyone who should win can win, and they are disappointed that, once again, they think their work goes unnoticed, because people here at Shaar Hashalom do not say thank you enough!

Or at all.

Do you know the definition, or one of them, for burnout? It is how someone feels when one no longer gets out of doing something, what used to spur them to do it. So, they ask, why am I doing this? And they begin to stop doing it. Burnout in small congregations is so common, because the same people get called on to do the work, but if they rarely get a pat on the back, a simple thank you, they burn out, and the synagogue stops. 

People once active in our congregation are no longer active because of burnout, at least in some cases,and a part of that burnout is the feeling that their enormous work was simply not appreciated. Which is a real sad shame. And I have news for you, it is a sad shame for every one of us.

Lets start with the Board, but remember I am not naming names, they all deserve our verbal thanks and our gratitude. 

As I tell them, if they ask me if they should keep their position on the board, There is no lengthy line of people waiting to take their position. Which is too bad, they need relief, and new blood on the board brings new ideas, new ideas that may not IMMEDIATELY be tried, but, you know, actually, with a little patience, our board is pretty good at trying them, eventually. 

But the people on our board, All Of Them, do so much for our congregation and rarely do they get to hear any appreciation from members, although I am quite sure they do hear the complaints. You know who they are, you are going to hear from them or most of them today, not just with applause, but when you see them doing something for or synagogue, which means for YOU, over the next long while, tell them thanks! 

As a matter of fact, my whole point is whenever you see ANYONE doing anything for you, you should be saying thanks, and that goes for anyone in your synagogue as well. 

But I am not only talking about the board. 

I am speaking of anyone and everyone who does things for the congregation. And it does not have to be tangible. It does not have to be something whose effect is obvious. 

For example, By and large, our congregation does have a good reputation for being warm and inviting and accepting. 

Why? Because there are those of us, here, who warmly greet someone new to our building, those who have come here for whatever reason, and someone in our congregation has gone out of their way to make them feel warmly welcome. Thank you to all those of you who do this. More of you when you are here, should. And maybe as your rabbi, I should say you should be here more often, so that you Can be warmly welcoming.

There are plenty of activities that take place at our congregation. Every Shabbat, when someone on the board reads the announcements, and thank you board members for reading them, there is usually a laundry list of things going on over the coming few weeks. But every one of those things are put on because someone works, and I mean works, to make them happen. 

Help them, and when you enjoy these things, these activities, tell the individuals who worked on it, thank you for all their work in making those things happen, and, by the way, thank you to all of you who have made them happen. 

And once you have said thank you, then turn around and ask them to call on you for the next time for help, so it can happen again. 

And again. 

And again and again. 

You know that pitching in is a great way to show your appreciation to those who are doing something. Pitching in is also a way of saying thank you, a way of saying I want it to happen again.

Our congregation, YOUR congregation, has a lot of unsung heroes, but people do not always need to have songs sung about them (especially if sung by me). A simple thank you can go a long way. And it is a lack in our congregation. Nothing happens here without someone doing a lot of work, to make it happen, and our mouths should be as full of appreciation for their work, as our mouths are full of complaints for it not happening the way we would like to see it being done or as fast as we would like to have seen it happen. All I am asking is that you be aware of this, and go out of your way, every time, to show your appreciation.

Finally, there is One more thing, I must add.

Thank you, all, for giving me the privilege of being your rabbi.

Respectfully submitted and with love,
Rabbi Stuart Federow

Sisterhood

Sisterhood has many things coming up in the coming months.

Recently we had our Sisterhood Shabbat and hosted our Intracontinental Regional Sisterhood President, Ardis Wexler. She was highly impressed with are services and also gave a brief speech about women in the bible. The weekend ended with treating Ardis to dinner Saturday night with members of Sisterhood and our Congregation President, Ron Zaguli.

In February, Sisterhood will kick off with "Kosher Sex" on the 6th. The event will be screening Rabbi Schmuley Boteach's video discussing the content of his bestselling book "Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy". Following the video, Rabbi Federow will be leading a commentary and discussion. We hope all the women of the congregation will join us for this informative event. Next, on February 21st Sisterhood will continue to host the annual Sisterhood Dress for Success Tea Kickoff. Be sure to bring your gently used suits, blouses, purses, shoes, etc. to the synagogue. Please contact Hedy Wolpa at hwolpa@gmail.com or Sheilla Goldberg at sheillagoldberg@gmail.com for more information.

We are also looking for volunteers for the upcoming Purim bag stuffing. Please contact Risa or myself if you are interested in helping.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

~Gin Nixon Sisterhood Co-President

Education

I want to welcome everyone back after the Winter break. We have 50 children in our religious school who are actively pursuing their Jewish education thanks to our principal, teachers, and volunteers.

In case you missed it, we had a busy fall. Our “Kipah Caper” fundraiser met our goal of raising $500.00. Thank you to everyone who participated and to those members of the congregation that kindly donated. Our religious school is going hi-tech! With the generous donation of six new Apple iPads, the children can now supplement their classroom learning with great online and interactive Jewish and Hebrew language resources selected by our teachers.

We have already started off 2016 with a mitzvah activity, conducted jointly with Social Action at Hope Village. Hope Village is a resident facility located in Friendswood that assists those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Led by Joe Buchanan, the religious school participated with the group while they listened to songs, sang along and served ice cream to the residents.

Planning for the 2016 Purim carnival is well underway. The carnival will be held at CSH this year on April 3rd from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The carnival will offer lots of exciting rides, games and activities along with your favorite kosher Hot Dogs and more! Planned and run with the assistance of the CSH Men’s Club, the Purim Carnival raises funds to enrich the religious school. If you are interested in being a sponsor of a ride or game, please contact Holli Hirsch or Ronnie Weiss.

We are planning to replace some of the aging furniture in the classrooms, especially the teacher’s desks. This initiative builds on the efforts in the last couple of years that included repainted the classrooms and updated electrical and lighting.

Our goal is to keep our school a place of Jewish learning that encourages our children to embrace their religion, language and Jewish heritage. If you are interested in donating or serving on the Education committee, we welcome your contributions.

Purim Carnival

The annual Purim Carnival will be at our synagogue this year on April 03, 2016

We are looking forward to another great year of fun and games! The zip-line and the rock-wall along with the other bounce houses have ordered along with petting zoo. We are expecting this to a great  event as we are trying to make it better every year but we can not do it without everyone's help.

In the coming weeks our volunteers will be contacting all of our past sponsors along the people who have not yet had the opportunity to sponsor in this event before. We will try to let everyone participate .
The Purim carnival is done with the children in mind and this is the biggest event in our synagogue puts on geared to entertain the kids of all ages. This is a fund raiser for the school, and we need all the help we can get on the day of the carnival so if you have the opportunity to volunteer we would love to see you there!

Ronnie Weiss
Men's club

Ice Cream Social

The Social Action Committee held it's first of the event of the 2016 year. We had an ice cream social at Hope Village in Friendswood. Hope Village is a non profit residential home for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We had about a dozen of the Sunday School kids to help with handing out ice cream to the residents. Joe Buchanan came with his wonderful voice and sang a variety of songs. Elizabeth Bell donated her time and did face painting. The highlight of the event was almost 20 people, residents and congregants forming a circle and doing the hokey pokey. We had a lot of laughs and brought lots of smiles to the faces of the residents. We would like to thank Arlans Supermarket in Seabrook for donating all of the ice cream and toppings for this event.

Houston Kosher Chili Cook-Off

CSH men's club is participating in its 5th year as a cook-off team.

We have won the peoples choice award two of the last five years. This event is being held on February 28th. 2016 at the JCC (5601 So. Braeswood houston,texas 77096).

The doors open for the public at 12.00 for people to come in and try over 35 different kinds of Kosher chili recipes It has evolved into one of the largest kosher cook-offs in the area. Most of the booths are decorated, there are vendors, bonce houses and music from around town including our own Joe Buchanan. This is a non profit event that supports many local Jewish charities. So come to this event come find our synagogue and try our award winning chili. For more information visit www.houstonkosherchilicoff.com

We are also seeking volunteers to help serve our chili and sell raffle tickets. If you can help contact Ronnie Weiss by e-mail at mrtrans@sbcglobal.net

Ronnie Weiss
Mens Club