Shabbat Shalom ~ Mishpatim 2023

Shalom WJC Family,

Last night I heard a weather forecast that says today the temperature will reach 62 degrees and by the end of the day temperatures will dip to 24 degrees. The numbers shocked me – an almost 40 degree swing? That must be some kind of record. So, I looked it up. Not only is this not a record, it is not even close. The most extreme recorded 24-hour weather change in US history occurred in 1972 in Loma Montana – At 9am on January 14th it was -54 degrees and at 8am on the 15th it was 49 degrees. No, I didn’t leave off a minus sign; the temperature changed 103 degrees! Can you imagine?

I know what you are thinking – that’s Montana. It’s different there in the Big Sky, Great White North part of the country. 40 degrees must be a record for New York City. Well, not quite, but it is closer. In fact the largest recorded temperature change may be fresh in your memory. It was 50 degrees and occurred this past December 23rd.

Why all this talk about the weather? It reminded me that our gut reaction to information is often not exactly accurate. We tend to make assumptions and draw conclusions without all the information, context and history we need. That is why I am so grateful for the work of our Strategic Planning Taskforce – we all should be. They’ve worked so incredibly hard to gather data from you all, the WJC family, so that we can plan with accurate information. Over the last several months, thanks to their efforts and your incredible level of participation in surveys and meetings, we’ve been able to learn so much about the WJC in this dynamic moment.

With that data in hand, we are excited to move to the next phase of planning, and judging from your generally positive feelings towards the synagogue, it seems like you are too. Through the data gathering, we’ve been able to identify several areas where we see opportunities to better align what happens “on the ground” in our shul with our mission, community values, and forward thinking — and I’d like to expressly invite you to join us in addressing those issues by joining one of the new Strategic Planning Taskforces we are creating, which will be focused on long term [3-5 years] plans and will complement the good work continuing to be done by our committees. These task forces will focus on a wide range of areas of synagogue life including: Spiritual Life, Inclusion, Young Families/Early Childhood Center (ECC), Religious School & Bar/Bat mitzvah prep /Teen Engagement, Leadership/Volunteerism/Transparency, Engagement and Welcoming and Marketing and Communications. Learn more about each of these by clicking here to read our president’s letter on the topic from earlier in the week.

These task forces will be charged with digging deeper into the data, history and possibilities for the future and to start charting the long term path that we will follow over the next 3-5 years and beyond. In other words we are inviting you to one of the most effective and impactful volunteer opportunities we can offer and we want you to be part of it, especially if you have not been involved in this kind of role at the synagogue before, but feel passionately about one of those categories. Now is your moment to step up and really have a long term impact. We hope you’ll take us up on this invitation. It is an exciting moment in WJC’s 100 year history and we would love for you to be a part helping us move forward into our next century.

Thank you so much to our Strategic Planning Task Force chairs Jonathan Berg and Joanna Liebman. If you have any questions or would like to sign up for any of the task forces please feel free to contact them directly at, or you can always contact me or Larry Thaler directly as well.

In the meantime, we are looking forward to sharing a beautiful Shabbat together and I wish you a Happy President’s Day Weekend.

See you in shul,

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