Shalom Temple Emunah Family!
I would like to introduce myself. I am Mark Bobrow, and my wife, Cindy, and I have lived in Lexington for 27 years, and have been part of the Temple Emunah community for 28 years. We have two daughters, Elizabeth and Jennifer, who attended Temple Emunah religious school and had their B’not MItzvah at Temple Emunah. Elizabeth was married at Temple Emunah in 2015 with Rabbi Lerner officiating. I have been on the Board for 16 years serving as a Member at Large, Publicity Chair, Brotherhood President, Associate Financial Officer, Treasurer, Finance Vice President, and most recently, Executive Vice President. Cindy is also involved with the synagogue as part of the Sisterhood. If you have purchased Rosh Hashanah Honey or Passover Chocolate, you have interacted with Cindy. Professionally, I am a biochemist and I enjoy music, woodworking, and just about everything Disney.
Special thanks to our rabbis, staff and volunteers for their efforts in keeping our community functioning. My gratitude also goes to the Officers and Board members who will not be returning, and to the returning and new Board members who have chosen to take on new challenges.
I am starting the Presidency at an unprecedented time. We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, sheltered in our homes and told to practice social distancing. However, the Temple Emunah Community is not practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, we have embraced social connecting while practicing safe physical distancing.
We have maintained our two daily minyanim, celebrated three B’nei Mitzvot on consecutive Saturdays spanning March and April, and Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdalah services have continued. Yizkor services on the last day of Pesah and the Yom Hashoah service were extremely well attended. The numbers of participants are often higher than when we were meeting in person. Attending daily services has provided the opportunity for people to connect and reach out to make sure everyone is well. We have a group of volunteers calling members to check on their well-being and providing assistance to those who are in need.
Religious school is still in session. Teachers have been holding classes remotely. There was even a Yad Wednesday night meal via home delivery by Me’ir Sherer. Meditation sessions, Yoga classes, study with the Rabbis, Niggun Saloons, theme minyanim and many other programs have continued and grown. For Pesah, there were sessions on how to hold remote sedarim, a bedikat hametz search, and a virtual seder the first night. We held two Community COVID-19 discussions led by our members Dr. David Geller and Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays, who are on the Lexington Board of Health.
Maintaining our social connections could not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts and creativity of our staff, and especially Rabbi Lerner and Rabbi Kling Perkins. Our rabbis have also been tasked with providing a high level of pastoral care and bereavement support in these exceedingly difficult times. The well being of our community is of paramount importance to our rabbis. We should keep them and their families’ well being in our thoughts and prayers.
We took swift action to maintain financial stability through the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2020). Facing the painful likelihood of reducing staff, we applied immediately for relief from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, introduced in late March. Offered in the form of loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, with 500 or fewer employees and impacted by COVID-19, PPP loans were approved and distributed nationally, via local banks, on a first-come, first served basis. The entire pool of $350 million in PPP funding was drained in the program's opening week.
By the end of Pesah, thanks to the tremendous efforts of Melissa Warneck, Howard Epstein, Alisa Billings, and Eyal Dvir (and other staff, as well as support from JFNA and CJP), Temple Emunah secured a $317,900 loan to be largely or completely forgiven when used to pay salaries. Those funds arrived on April 24, allowing us to continue to compensate staff, including pre-school teachers.
There is a high level of uncertainty as we progress into our next fiscal year. Our Finance Team is modeling various scenarios and developing contingency plans. As with other crises, we will get through this by the hard work of our rabbis, staff, volunteers, and the value our members place on Temple Emunah as a connecting and caring community.
Mark Bobrow - President