From The President

This is the speech that Natalie Matus offered at Rosh Hashanah services this year.

Congregants and Friends,

Welcome! I am so happy to see so many of you here – in-person and on Zoom.

It’s been a whirlwind year since I took over the presidency from Chris Kelly. As a congregation, we have faced the challenges – and opportunities – of pivoting after the (hopefully) worst of the COVID pandemic – figuring out how to safely reopen in person, continue to provide opportunities to connect and worship for those living afar or unable to attend in person, and build and strengthen our community.

I am thrilled to share that our congregation is growing, our Hebrew School is expanding, and our spiritual life is growing richer.

Since last Rosh Hashanah, we have grown from 93 to 104 member units. Half of the new members are young families! We opened for hybrid services and added monthly Family Services. We expanded our robust program of young family programs, funded in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and ran an interfaith afterschool program, “Caring for Our Earth and Each Other,” with 2 local churches. Our religious school more than doubled in size to 17 children. And, we reopened our youngest class, Aleph Tav, for children in kindergarten through grade 2.

We have a new choir that meets weekly and is enriching our High Holy Day services with their melodies.

And, we expanded the number of opportunities for adult education and connection. We started a monthly Book Club, First Friday Zoom Shabbat celebrations, and programs on many topics of Judaic interest. Our pollinator garden is thriving and drawing bees and butterflies. Our fruit trees are taking root and will someday grace our property with an abundance of fruit – echoing the apple orchard that existed here long before CBI’s moved in. We have a new website that presents CBI as the warm and welcoming community it is.

Being a small congregation presents both challenges and opportunities. We have tried to overcome the challenges and embrace the opportunities. While we have a limited amount of resources – both in people and finances – we also have great flexibility to try new things. My motto is to try to say “yes” to new ideas that are brought to the Board – and to figure out how together we can make them happen. And more times than not, we find that we can.

It has truly been an honor to lead this congregation. All these accomplishments are not due to one or even several people, They are the direct result of the commitment, vision, and work of many – our beloved Rabbi Rachel; our other rabbis – Rabbi Pam Wax and Rabbi Jarah Greenfield; Ziva Larson, our cantorial soloist; our teachers; Oliver Jones, our hardworking synagogue administrator; our board members; and so many others. My thanks and gratitude also go to all those who volunteer to usher, organize events, lead the choir, serve as Zoom angels, sound the shofar, manage the cemetery, water our trees and plants, weed and plant, clean up, and so much more. And to my husband Roger, whose ongoing love and support makes all that I do possible.

As our website says, we want you here and we welcome you here. The possibilities for what CBI can become are limitless with your vision and commitment. Whether you are here full-time, part-time, or live far away, new technologies make everyone’s participation possible. And we need YOU to be all that we can be. We need your ideas, your hands, and your heart. I hope that in these coming days of reflection, you will reflect on what CBI means to you and this community and how you can help. We are all in this together.

L-shanah tovah – may you be inscribed favorably in the book of life.

— Natalie Matus