A Message from Our President

by Rachel Calmas

Dear Friends,

As part of our strategic planning process, this past June the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to adopt Tikkun Olam, Caring and Inclusive Community and Jewish and General Education as Temple Ohabei Shalom’s core values. These values were identified through our strategic planning process, which included an online survey (165 completed), three community meetings (attended by over half our members with 60-110 members at each meeting) and in person interviews. Seven focus groups were formed and each group met one to three times over the past few months with the directive to identify and prioritize action items.

We express our values in many ways and will work over the next few years to deepen our commitment to each of these areas. I would like to share with you a few small ways we put these values into action.

On September 26th Ohabei Shalom will be honored at Brookline Town Hall as a recipient of the 2018 Community Emergency Preparedness Appreciation Award. For many years we have opened our doors to serve as a medical reception center during the Boston Marathon. It is with great pleasure (and a lot of hard work) that every year we open our doors to approximately one hundred plus runners who need to be evaluated and treated during their 26.2-mile run. This is one small example how we demonstrate our commitment to be a Caring and Inclusive Community to the broader community.

Another way we are demonstrating our core values of Caring and Inclusive Community and Tikkun Olam is that this year, 5779, we are honored to welcome a refugee family into our community.Our Trust Center for Early Education (TCEE), has embraced the opportunity to teach a 3.5 year old boy, Dilbreen, from Iraq who is in Boston to receive medical treatment. His family is Yazidi, a monotheistic religious group from Northern Iraq. When ISIS launched a genocide against the Yazidis in 2014, his family fled to a refugee camp where Dilbireen was badly burned in an accident. He was brought to the U.S. to receive treatment at Shriners Hospital and after being separated from his parents for four months due to the travel ban on Iraqis, the family has been reunited in Boston. If you would like to learn more about this family you can see a short clip here. If you would like to be involved in supporting this initiative or our joining our Tikkun Olam Committee please email Rabbi Schaefer.

We have diverse and wonderful education programs planned for this year, including classes on the Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, Modern Ethical Dilemmas, an intergenerational Rosh Chodesh group, and a TOS talk on an Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding initiative. To see a sample of our upcoming Jewish and General Education offerings please see our website.

Our strategic planning work is not quite complete. Over the next month we will compile the recommendations gathered by the committee and share them with you so we may hear your feedback. We will also schedule a few final follow-up conversations so that our current committees may discuss the recommendations of each focus group and share their thoughts with the board of trustees. Phew! It’s been quite a process.

It’s worth repeating that over 165 members filled out our online survey. Over one hundred members attended our first community meeting and we had about sixty-five members at meetings number two and three. As a result of this process seventeen community members have joined committees for the first time. This is remarkable. Thank you to everyone, who made themselves available for an interview, who filled out the online survey, who reached out to me or another member of the strategic planning facilitation team and to all of you who showed up for our community meetings and then joined a focus group.

I look forward to celebrating the High Holy Days together.

B’vracha (with blessings),

Rachel Calmas

Progressive in attitude yet traditional in practice, Temple Ohabei Shalom is an inclusive Jewish community committed to nurturing, sustaining, and touching Jewish lives through lifelong learning, joyful worship, and repair of the world in word and deed.