From Rabbi Johanna Hershenson

As June carries us into our summer season, I find myself reflecting on Temple Beth Tikvah's fiscal year. As if Judaism's four new years weren't enough, our TBT fiscal and program year ends in June and begins in July.

Hence our annual meeting each June: to report on budget and program from the past year and propose budget and program for the next year. I hope to see a great turn out at that meeting. It is the place, after all, to ask questions and make suggestions, and even better yet, choose an area of TBT life and get involved.

I like having so many "new years" during the year. Our fiscal year. Rosh Hashanah. Tu Bshvat, the new year for trees. January 1st. Fresh starts.

It's not that each one is really a total start over. Rather each "new year" is a pause for the purpose of reflecting on a specific aspect of life. Rosh Hashanah is when we check in on our values and whether or not our lives manifest what we say is important. Tu Bshvat is for taking note of trees, nature, and sustainability. Our fiscal year is an opportunity to evaluate our Temple Beth Tikvah experience and refine our shared goals for enriching Jewish life and community in Bend.

Through the fog of chemotherapy and just plain having cancer, I've noticed our board cultivate a network of grass roots lay leadership. Our members continue to step forward and take responsibility for our communal offerings:

Our rituals committee has facilitated Shabbat and festival celebrations with the support of our High Holy Days committee and our Passover seder committee. Our social action committee has employed member volunteers to feed the hungry. Our adult learning committee has kept our minds busy with Tuesday evening courses and Havdallah Saturday nights with Israeli films and mavens - TBT members with interesting expertise.

Our religious and Hebrew school parents have taken volunteer shifts to support Kathy Schindel and the teachers with set up, clean up, and distributing snack. Our families with babes and tots have taken Tot Shabbat out of the church library and brought it into each others' homes. Our youth committee has generated two enthusiastic youth groups (middle school and high school).

Finding Your Connections committee has awakened our desire to develop closer relationships with one another and is exploring best practices for integrating opportunities to engage meaningfully in all our services and gatherings. Our finance committee has reworked our spending to meet our needs and use our (and your) money wisely as well as honestly. Our facilities committee (aka Mark Schindel) has secured venues, sound, set up and clean up for almost all our events. Our PR and communications committee has reworked our logo and website to reflect what Temple Beth Tikvah means to us, as surveyed by our membership committee who woos prospective members and is practicing how to enrich our experience as members once we're already in the proverbial door.

As the only Jewish community professional in the organization, I say, THANK YOU! Thank you, to each and every lay leader and volunteer who served on a committee or was a worker-bee on behalf of a committee. Thank you, to each and every board member and committee chair who took responsibility for providing our members with varied opportunities to engage and for weathering the challenges the past year presented us. Thank you, to each and every Temple Beth Tikvah member. That you join and support a synagogue in this day and age is something I value greatly. A philanthropist I knew in Los Angeles once suggested that every identifying Jew today is a Jew by choice.

I really do believe that every identifying Jew today is a Jew by choice. It is utterly unnecessary to identify, and yet we do. We yearn to share our language and food, our values and teachings, our experiences of amazement and our celebration of holy days.

Our congregation is what we make it, the sum of its parts...our congregation is us. Speak up. Step up. We're all in this together.

~~ Rabbi Hershenson's office hours are by appointment. If you would like to set up an appointment, please contact her by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by phone at 541-213-9880.