The Minyan held its 35th annual Community Meeting on Sunday, March 15th. Council member and Treasurer Sophie Miron facilitated the meeting. Council member Neal Cronin set the meeting's intention by asking for selfless service to the Minyan, in a joyful, grounded way that truly reflects what each member can do.
Co-Shomer Barry Barkan blessed this intention by reflecting the Minyan's legacy of being in the world through deep spiritual energy – that this kavannah was transmitted by Rabbis Schlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and spawned much great work by original Minyanites.
Co-Shomeret Abigail Grafton reflected on the shifting nature of this transition, by noting the passing of leadership from her and Barry to others, and chronicled her own rise to leadership in the Minyan. Abigail also outlined the Minyan's four basic initiatives – membership, volunteerism, fundraising, and administration – as core objectives currently being addressed.
Fundraising Coordinator Miriam Chaya presented progress on our recently commenced fund drive. She noted that $22,700 has been raised so far, with many more members, donors, and potential contributors still to be called. Fundraising emails will include a donation link, and all High Holiday service attendees will receive a letter. Miriam Chaya also reflected that personal conversations with people are the most effective way to get them involved. The Fundraising Committee conducts soliciting exercises to train callers. The Minyan leadership will search for a volunteer grant writer to work with Miriam Chaya, in complementing the fundraising drive.
Barry Barkan gave an update on a current collaboration proposal from Chochmat Halev. A Chochmat board member initially made the proposal. The core intention is for the Minyan and Chochmat to collaborate on activities that support both communities, such as joint program events. Barry noted that the rabbis from both organizations, Diane Elliott and SaraLeya Schley, have an excellent working relationship. He reflected on this mutual collaboration as one of integrating the Minyan's deep spiritual practice, rooted in Chasidism and the Baal Shem Tov, with Chochmat's own practice of Jewish meditation. This collaboration would deepen each congregation's practice, preserve the Minyan's identity, create a mutually beneficial use of physical space for events, and enhance the visions of each group. Chochmat's Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks will initiate talks with Barry, as Minyan co-Shomeret and former Chochmat president, and Marcia Brooks, as Administrative Coordinator and as someone with a deep working knowledge of the various renewal communities.
Abigail announced that Marcia Brooks will be Membership Coordinator. Marcia presented her goal to increase membership, particularly focusing on non-member High Holiday service attendees. Sophie reflected on the kavannah of all Jews being active congregation members, each evaluating where their financial, volunteer, and spiritual commitments match.
Neal Cronin, as new volunteer coordinator, presented his vision and plan in recruiting members for selfless service to the Minyan. Council member Bob Jaffe agreed to be Shabbat Services Coordinator; newly-nominated Council member Debbie Sarnoff agreed to be on the Membership Committee; newly-nominated Council member Gayle Jacobson agreed to be on the Bikur Cholim Committee, and help with grant writing. As noted above, Gayle Jacobsen, Debbie Sarnoff, and Miriam Chaya were nominated for seats on the Council. Current council members Fran Avni, Barry Barkan, Shoshana Dembitz, Abigail Grafton, Bob Jaffe, and Sophie Miron will continue to serve, with Neal Cronin eligible for re-election. Nomination forms are due by Wednesday, April 1st, after which ballots will be mailed to all members.
Neal reflected on what the Minyan meant to him, and asked meeting participants to help define the constituency of the Minyan. Neal's own definition was spiritual seekers who have reached the point in their lives where they wanted to deepen or start their own practice, through the history of Chasidism and Jewish meditation. Debbie Sarnoff related her own heart-felt journey leading her to the Minyan, prompted by the death of her husband. Sophie Miron, who also is a Website Committee member, gave an update on upgrading the Minyan website. Currently, she has created a prototype web site, www.aminyan.info, where authorized members can develop designs for the new official site. Plans for the new site also include managing events and generating newsletters.
Longtime Minyan member Skye Pelicrow led us in song to conclude the meeting – "May we always remember where we come from…" This song by Shefa Gold was a fitting ode our community – honor and reflect our legacy, and proactively move into the future. The Minyan is currently doing just that…