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2020 President Annual Report

 

Dear JCOGS community,

I think it’s safe to say that our 2019-20 year ended differently than we had planned. We spent the last quarter of this fiscal year sheltering at home, attending services virtually, due to the Covid-19 crisis. Yet, I can also safely say that it has been a good year for JCOGS.

We started with the "Kick off the Summer" Shabbat in June, and a barbecue in July sponsored by our Shalom Committee, including a special tribute to Lisa Carrick and Skip Wentz for their dedicated service to JCOGS. 

Our Stowe Jewish Film Festival presented four films at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center: Reaching for Zion, Sammy Davis Junior: I’ve Gotta Be Me, Joseph Pulitzer: The Voice of the People, and Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal. We presented a staged reading of Eight Nights, raising money for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. We held a Farm Dinner Fundraiser at the beautiful Sandiwood Farm. 

The winter is slower at JCOGS, but we did manage to do quite a bit. Share the Light was a rocking all-Vermont Hanukkah party, organized by Cyndy Wyatt and Nancy Salzman. On December 25, we held the Second Annual Noncompetitive Board Game Competition. Our friends at St. John’s in the Mountain Episcopal Church hosted the larger community in a call to end antisemitism and religious violence. 

In January 2020, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, JCOGS in conjunction with the Vermont Holocaust Memorial presented the award-winning, short documentary “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm.” Then, our annual Yom HaShoah interfaith commemoration program went virtual, with 47 members of JCOGS, the greater Stowe community, and faith leaders that took part in the online program. 

Our cemetery, Darchei Shalom, was originally designed with two sections to meet the needs of our diverse membership.  The Chesed section was for those who wanted a traditional Jewish cemetery while the Emet section is available for Jews and non-Jewish partners and cremated remains. This year, our cemetery committee worked hard to create a third section, Tzedek.  The Tzedek section will be for 'Green Burials' only.  While 'Green Burials' are very similar to traditional Jewish burials, the real difference is how the section is maintained.  The emphasis is on letting the land go towards a natural state with native flora and fauna encouraged to flourish instead of the more traditional monoculture of Chesed and Emet.  The committee plans to have this section fully operational and ready for burial plot sales in June. 

Our building committee is tireless in their dedication to caring for our beautiful building. Susan Bayer-Fishman’s leadership and her committee’s consistent hard work are often overlooked, and they deserve a great deal of credit.

Thank you to Beth Liberman for her inspired work as our director of family and youth education. Thank you to Olivia Easdale for keeping us running smoothly, even from a distance. Immense gratitude to all our committee chairs and volunteers who are the spirit and energy of our community.

With our switch to virtual services in March, we’ve seen record attendance at Friday night and Havdalah services. How fortunate we are that Rabbi David has jumped into this challenge with both feet. We are indeed beyond lucky to have such a talented and committed rabbi leading us in these times.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our board for their work. Each member of our board works hard in their individual committee. When they come together, they may disagree, but they always work to find the consensus that is best for JCOGS as a whole. I am incredibly grateful for their dedication, and it is a pleasure to work with them. Our youth board member, Ayla Oshkello, is headed off into adulthood and will be leaving the board. Matt Yoskowitz and Edee Simon-Israel have completed their terms with aplomb, and while they have chosen not to serve another term right now, they are incredibly valued members of our community. I thank Ayla, Matt, and Edee for their dedication and service to our community.

Sincerely,

Emily Rosenbaum

Wed, July 8 2020 16 Tammuz 5780