President’s Column: A new year at CBE

December 14, 2023
By Keith Satter

Dear Members,

The start of the new calendar year always reminds me of how fast time seems to be going. It literally seems like just a few weeks ago we gathered to welcome the Jewish New Year of 5784. Yet, the secular new year always prompts me to think about where things stand and look ahead to the next 12 months. 

The same is true here at Beth El. We have been thinking a great deal about how we look to our members and, especially our prospective members. We want people to join us especially in these times of stress when community is so important.

With that in mind, we have, first, doubled down on our effort to make our building safe. You may have noticed an increase in police presence, for example. We have made physical changes, too, adding cameras and more solid doors. A key pad entry and new doors are slated for the nursery/religious school wing.

From an aesthetic standpoint we have been taking a look at the inside of our building, as well. We have chosen to remodel where we spend the most time. We have changed the flooring in the social hall and the chapel to great effect. Shortly, we will be re-carpeting the main foyer and hallway. This will give us a fresh look to people entering our building.

You may have noticed the beautiful chairs that are now in our chapel. They replace the chairs that have been there since the mid-1980s. They give us a clean, modern look. Next, we are taking a look at the chapel ark. I believe the ark has been with us almost since the founding of Beth El some 90 years ago. I clearly remember standing in front of it as a child of eight or nine, which was in the late 1950s. As my late mother-in-law used to say, “It doesn’t owe us anything.”

What do they say? They don’t build them like they used to? Ours is a wonderful size for the space so finding a modern replacement that fits the room may not be easy. I love the padded lining that supports our torahs and the detail is quite amazing when you get up close. Another option is to have it refinished from the inside out. I am not sure what option will work best. We will keep investigating and then work with our decorating committee to make some decisions.

Together, our look as you enter the building, participate in activities in the social hall and chapel will reflect a refreshed appearance, all accomplished well within our budget thanks to some significant donations.

All the Best for 2024.