Achievements Accomplished: 2019-2021
Salatiel Corcos, President
Temple Beth Shalom
Presented at the Annual meeting, May 1, 2021
As of July 1, 2019, I was entrusted with the Presidency of Temple Beth Shalom. Since that day my efforts have been focused on keeping our community together and bringing new changes. It was not an easy start, as we had many challenges to overcome. However, today I can say that we have succeeded. Our community remains united and stronger than ever. Our finances are solid; the support of our rabbis along with the entire Spiritual Coverage Committee has kept our services constant and vibrant. But none of this would have been possible without the efforts of the Beth Shalom Board of Directors.
I must first thank Marc Schnitzer and Emily Krasinski for their support from day one and the orderly transfer of the Presidency from Emily to me. Their advice, support, and willingness to serve is invaluable. Second, I must acknowledge the work of Aurea Gonzalez, my vice president, without whom we could not run most of the activities, services, and events that the Temple carries out. I must thank Emmanuel Rodriguez whose passion for finances and the Temple have kept us economically afloat. To Ingrid Merced, who, with her nobility and love for others, has inspired everyone on the Board, helping us greatly. I must also acknowledge Jody Valdés for her countless efforts to maintain our rabbinic and cantorial coverage and spiritual resources. Without her efforts we would not have Rabbis. Last but not least, I must acknowledge the work of our trustees; Shula, David, Debbie, & Roxanna whose advice, donations, and grants sustain this community.
I hereby summarize some of our most memorable achievements during these two years.
- Trip to St. Thomas-July 2019. Although organized by our former president Emily Krasinski during her term, we made the trip to St. Thomas at the beginning of my presidency. I wish to thank the members who accompanied us on the trip in July 2019 to the St. Thomas Synagogue. There we were able to enjoy a historical account of the founding of one of the oldest synagogues in the Caribbean; we visited the Jewish cemeteries, saw the Judaica and the Synagogue, whose floors are covered in sand. Rabbi Michael Feshbach was a wonderful host and welcomed us with great warmth and hospitality. The love and welcome from the members of this community made us feel what it is like to be part of a larger Jewish community.
- The Painting of the Synagogue-August 2019. In August 2019, men and women from the Temple joined to clean and paint our building. On one Sunday we managed to touch up the interior and exterior paint of our Synagogue. This helped us get our beautiful facilities ready for the High Holidays of that year.
- Trip to the URJ Biennial Convention-December 2019. Emily Krasinski and I had the privilege of representing Temple Beth Shalom at the Biennnial Convention of the Union for Reform Judaism in Chicago. It was an experience that brought us many benefits and contacts for the Temple. We were able to see how we are not alone in many issues that concern us as a synagogue. We discovered the number of small synagogues just like ours that maintain similar memberships and still survive well. And above all, we enjoyed the training and seminars that have served us to continue improving the administration of the Temple. Among these, the implementation of ShulCloud has been a success for our memberships.
- Inauguration of the Solar Panels and Hannuka Party. In December 2019 we were finally able to inaugurate our solar panel system with an unprecedented event. Over 100 people gathered for a night we would recall the miracles of the Festival of Lights, Hannuka, plus the miracle of having been able to receive post-Hurricane Maria grants with which to install our solar panels and Tesla Batteries system.
- Campaign to Help the Victims of Earthquakes in Southern Puerto Rico-January 2020. At dawn on January 7, 2020, we were all awakened by a strong tremor that would change the lives of our brothers and sisters in the South. We immediately created a fundraising campaign to help dozens of families in the affected areas, through our Social Action Committee. This campaign helped us raise over $ 15k dollars that today are used to continue collaborating with social causes such as the earthquakes. But we do not limit ourselves to that. We have also been able to support members in times of need, help pay for medical expenses, bring food to the needy and much more. I have to thank Debra Reuben for leading this committee and other very active members such as Wilda, Rebecca, Aurea, Emily, Niorly, Shula, Luis, and David.
- The Memorial Service for Jimmy Klau-February 2020. A memorable event that I wish to recall is the memorial service for our beloved founder Jimmy Klau. Jimmy always had a special ability to bring people together. His leadership was exemplary and this was stressed on the day we remembered his life that February of 2020. I still remember the beautiful words of Rabbi Patz under the title “Thinking About Jimmy Klau’s Life and Death” where he highlighted Jimmy’s tireless work for his family and Temple Beth Shalom. Thank you Jimmy and the Klau family for so much.
- Presentation of the Film “The Last Cyclist”-February 2020. I must first of all acknowledge the work of all those who made the presentation of “The Last Cyclist” possible. We managed to do a quality event, where we gathered almost a hundred guests from the three synagogues.
- Pre-Pandemic Purim-March 2020. One of the events that I remember most fondly was our last party together—the last party we hugged—the last party where we could be together under the same roof.
- Pesach and the Covid-19 Lockdown-April 2020. We gave ourselves the goal, during the Pandemic Lockdown, to take our members their Pesach foods, and we succeeded. We went out house-by-house and distributed the matzah. I thank Emmanuel and María for collaborating on this mitzvah.
- Latin American Virtual Services-May 2020. After realizing that it would not be possible to reopen the Temple for a while, we began virtual services with our rabbis, Norman Patz and Roberto Graetz, and then with the rabbis-in-training Edy in Argentina, Pablo in Brazil, and Martín in Chile. We were also joined by the beautiful Adat Israel community in Guatemala. To this day these services have brought us much joy and spiritual comfort.
- High Holy Days During the Pandemic-Sept/Oct 2020. It is not only complicated to keep the community together at a distance, but also to have High Holy Days services virtually. I remember how, on the night of Rosh Hashana, ShulCloud failed and we couldn’t access the service. But not just for us. It failed for thousands of synagogues throughout the United States. We were living a historic moment: for the first time hundreds of thousands of Jews were connecting virtually at the same time for Rosh Hashana from their homes. And this brought down the ShulCloud servers. Thank goodness we were able to manually reconnect and celebrate the New Year together.
- Installation of the Social Hall Dividing Doors-November 2020.Three years after Hurricane Maria, we were finally able to put into use the funds that the Temple insurance gave us due to the flood we experienced. We invested them in new dividing doors. But not just any doors, doors that will last a lifetime, a hotel-style system that is easy to repair with materials of the highest quality for our children to enjoy.
- The Last Completely Virtual Services of 2021. ‘Hope’ is what I will call this stage. We are looking forward to meeting again in person at the Temple, where we will remember the pandemic as something that happened, and where we can pray together again.