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Letter from the President

By Cindy Goldstein

So much has happened in our community since our last Galim appeared.  Believe it or not, it was published six months ago, in September for the High Holy Days.  We enjoyed a spectacular online High Holy Days, and then we moved on, finding new ways to stay together as a community during the pandemic.

We’ve continued with Friday night services and Saturday morning services.  We’ve participated online in Stephanie Avedon’s yoga class, Jeffrey Prince’s Tot Shabbat and his Songs for the Jewish Soul, Rachel Kann’s Realize Paradise and her Zumba class, Rabbi Dan’s Prophets class, Rabbi Botnick’s Torah study, Shai Avital’s Adult Hebrew classes, and Barbara’s Book Club.  And we set up our classes and services so that they are recorded and available on our website to watch whenever you want to.

Our tenant in our restaurant property next door decided to leave, and we faced the prospect of no tenant and no restaurant income during the rest of the pandemic.  However, the restaurant’s huge patio with a roll-away cover proved to be a great draw, and prospective tenants competed for the space.  We are awaiting the opening of a Venice-style Mexican restaurant very soon.

In November, Rabbi Botnick told the board that he was going to leave Mishkon in January and move closer to family.  Before he left, we were able to assemble a physical album of photos and notes contributed by many of you to share your memories and good wishes with him. 

We immediately began following the Rabbinical Assembly’s guidelines to find a new rabbi.  It still seems hard to believe that we were able to hire Rabbi Joshua Katzan, whose story fit so well with Mishkon’s.  His great-grandfather was a founding member of Mishkon and was the first president of Mishkon.  Rabbi Josh’s grandparents and parents were married at Mishkon.

And Rabbi Josh was one of our final two candidates when we hired Rabbi Botnick.  In fact, Rabbi Botnick was the first person to suggest that we consider Rabbi Josh to replace him.  Then it turned out that Rabbi Josh was not only available but also living in Los Angeles.  We could say it was bashert!

Since Rabbi Josh started work at the end of January, he has made it a point to reach out to all our members, and so far he has spoken to more than 80 people, including all the families with upcoming bar and bat mitzvahs.  He will get to the rest of you very soon.  Between conversations, he is teaching two weekly classes – Torah Study and Jewish Meditation – leading Friday night and Saturday morning services, and working with our Religious School director, Sasha Dominguez, and the Religious School families.

On his first day of work, he showed up at Mishkon for our clothing drive for the downtown Midnight Mission.  He was able to meet and greet many of you when you dropped off your clothing bundles.  He also played guitar and sang during our Welcome Adar coffee house, and he did the same and more at our Purim event, Megillah Reading and Chuckle-Fest.

The Purim event was also special because Rabbi Dan chanted almost the whole megillah, as they say, with a lead-in by Jeff Fleck.  Mishkonian Jeffrey Prince served as master of ceremonies, and about 75 of you attended on Zoom. We heard great music and great jokes, from people age 5 and up!

The Small Business Administration has again offered forgivable Paycheck Protection Plan loans for non-profits like Mishkon.  We were successful at getting one last year, and we have just submitted our application for this year.  We received a Federation schools-reopening grant and will use it when the preschool returns from hiatus.  And we applied for a United Synagogue Pandemic Programs Grant based our successful online Adult Education program.  We will also be applying for a federal Security Grant again.  We have been unsuccessful in our quest for a security grant so far, but I’m optimistic.

Speaking of optimism, I’m feeling it about Mishkon in general.  We have a new rabbi, we’ll soon see an end to the pandemic, Spring is coming, the new restaurant will open soon, we will be getting new grants, and we’ll all be together in person.  Who could ask for more?  Well, more dark chocolate would be good.

Sat, July 2 2022 3 Tammuz 5782