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Executively Speaking: The Spring is Heating Up

by Michael Saxe-Taller

If you have stopped by Kehilla during the workweek recently, you may have noticed me in a meeting, on the phone or intently writing on my computer.  We have hit a very busy time for me and for all of Kehilla. I find my head spinning with the many exciting projects on my plate. I tried to come up with a big picture topic for this column, but gave up and decided to let you in on some of these many great efforts.

Upgrading our Building

Work continues on our Grand Avenue home. We just installed an air conditioner in the sanctuary. Given how cold it has been this last couple of months, this may not seem exciting, but we are looking forward to those sweltering summer services in the sanctuary becoming a thing of the past.

Next time you are in the building, check out the beautiful new wooden tabletop in the lobby. It is one of the final pieces of our lobby beautification project. We recently had the building tested for mold and will be learning soon about the scope of the work needed to make our building more accessible to everyone.

In support of our commitment to offer physical sanctuary for an immigrant or refugee resisting deportation, we are in the process of getting permits for a new shower/bathtub to be located off of Miriam’s Well on the ground floor. We have raised over $19,000 for the project at this point and are hoping to get to the construction in the spring or early summer.

Evening with Alicia Garza Fundraiser

As you probably know by now, we are hosting a very special event on May 11, “Many Stories, Shared Liberation: An Evening with Alicia Garza” at the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. We are excited to have this civil rights activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter in conversation with Rabbi Dev and Kehilla activists of color to address how our liberation movements can work together to dismantle white supremacy and antisemitism.

We are expecting to sell out, so get your tickets soon and tell your friends of this powerful evening. Please consider sponsoring this event to help raise funds for Kehilla’s programs and all that we do. Ticket sales cover only the event costs, so the fundraising portion comes through your sponsorships. We invite you to be a sponsor by making a gift on the ticket sales page in addition to your ticket purchase. Sponsorships range from $10 to $1,000.  And we have already raised more than $10,000 to date!

St. Michael’s Ethiopian Church

Our long time tenant, St. Michael’s Church, has finally been able to purchase their own building and will be leaving Kehilla at the end of May. We are sad to see them go, but overjoyed that they finally have a home they can call their own. We are now looking for another congregation that would like to use Kehilla as their home base. Let me know if you have any leads.

Organizational Development Task Force

Over the past five years, Kehilla has grown significantly in membership and in organizational maturity and has undergone many transitions in staff, clergy and lay leadership. We are thriving as a community, and we are also faced with the challenges that come with growth and change. We recently convened a task force of a diverse group of Kehilla leaders, to explore these issues and consider how we can change and grow our infrastructures (both volunteer and professional) to support our current and future size.  There will be a number of opportunities to engage this process in the future.  We will let you know about them as they arise.

Annual Community Meeting

We have begun planning for our Annual Community Meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, May 22, at 7pm. As always, I have an opportunity to give my “State of the Congregation” talk. In preparation, I have been working hard to bring this fiscal year to a close and to prepare our budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  Mark you calendars so you can join us.

Summer Retreat

Plans are also underway for our annual summer Congregational Retreat.  Check out Maya Joshua’s article for details.

This is just a taste of the many interesting things that have been occupying my Kehilla days – and I didn’t even mention that Passover is coming! I wish you all a good month of preparation and liberation.  I will be heading to Israel for Pesach, and look forward to seeing many of you at the many exciting events that will be happening once I am back.

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