Notes from the Rimon Community Meeting on June 16, 2016

Present: Kaya and Steve, Ellyn, Wren, Bubsy, Susie, Jeremy, Joanie, Barbara, and Alice;
facilitated by Ani and Rosa.


1) We will be meeting again, to continue the good work that community members accomplished in this meeting.

2) We are moving forward with a broadly-shared desire for informal spiritual fellowship, as well as, a broadly-shared desire to have Rimon continue as a non-profit organization.

3) At the next Board meeting, there will be some formal transitions taking place so that Rimon can continue.

4) Kaya will be writing a letter to the Hevreh Kadisha members (which are distinct and only somewhat overlapping with the Rimon community) inviting them to participate in a "continuity team" meeting with Rabbi Hirsh and Kaya.

How we got there:

I. Intro: After some words of welcome by Ellyn, and an overview of the evening by Ani, Kaya led an opening niggun.

II. First course: Kaya then shared an update about her new position in Massachusetts, about two hours away. She will be at a year-long interim position in North Central Massachusetts, with a Conservative congregation that is very much wanting to bring in new and younger members. Her job includes a parsonage house, so she will be able to keep her residence in the Berkshires. 

Responses included congratulations and best wishes to Kaya, along with relief that she will not be so far away! Also sadness that she will not be here with us, and a shared desire among many of us, that Rimon continue in some form.

III. Second course: We explored a number of questions, beginning with, "Given where we are, what is possible now?" We also looked at "What do we want to continue? What new do we want to create"?

(Note: the items below have been clustered by theme, and were not necessarily presented in the order given below.)

A. Spiritual Fellowship:

1) One eloquent statement of possibility was that members of the community could continue to meet as friends on a regular basis, to engage in meditation and study. We could follow some course of study, read texts together, talk about their meaning.

2) Along these lines, the suggestion was made that there are a lot of resources available online, for online learning, and we could have small groups meeting in person, to access these online resources.

3) Another possibility would be to have people go as a group, carpooling together as a community to attend events at other synagogues in the nearby area.

4) People could also do simple Shabbat potlucks, to share Shabbas together.

5) Volunteers who want to organize and coordinate some of these "spiritual community" gatherings (Shabbas potlucks, carpooling to nearby services) will be greatly appreciated.

6) There was a lot of support for the idea of informal continuation as a spiritual fellowship, AND, there was also a lot of support for keeping Rimon going as a non-profit organization (next topic.) It was clear that both of can happen, and are not opposed.

B. Possibilities and responsibilities involved in keeping Rimon's non-profit status:

1) As part of this conversation, we explored some of the minimum requirements that will be needed for Rimon to continue:

a) having an annual yearly meeting;
b) having a President, Treasurer, and Secretary;
c) having minutes of meetings;
d) having a financial report on a yearly basis;
e) writing thank you letters to donors.

2) Ellyn shared the good news that her husband is willing to take on the role of treasurer, and has experience having done so at a former synagogue.

3) At the same time, we still welcome additional community members who are willing to serve on the Board.

4) We also explored the possibility expanding the capacity of a small Board through a larger "Core Team" of community members who would like to contribute in some way to our transition. That way, people could volunteer to be part of the larger Core Team, and possibly join a committee, without needing to take on the responsibility of becoming Board member.

C. Doable projects Rimon might sponsor / resources potentially available for this

1) One project already "in the works" is another round of the "Aging to Saging" group. This new round would have a slightly different format, meeting every two weeks for four sessions total. Ellyn is in contact with Audrey, to follow up on this. Support from community members with advertising and outreach for this, would be most welcome.

2) Another possibility is having occasional teachers who are coming to Isabella Freedman, be sponsored by Rimon to offer an evening teaching either before or after their IF workshop.

3) A resource for teachers and student teachers is Rachel Barenblatt, co-chair of Aleph and rabbi for the North Adams Renewal community. She sent Rimon a lovely letter of support, offering to tap into her connections as a resource for potential service leaders/ teachers. Rimon would need to pay these teachers or service leaders, and organize the events.

4) One possibility could be, to organize 3-4 Shabbatons over the course of the year. These would be special weekends, with Friday evening services, Saturday morning teachings, and possibly some celebration on Saturday afternoon as well.

5) We learned that as an affiliate of the Federation, Rimon qualifies to receive financial support for two programs per year, of up to $500 each. Other small grants include the Harold Risman Foundation, which can grant up to $1,000 per event, and the Kadiah fund, which will offer grants up to 2 times per year.

6) One potential resource for doing flyers, newsletters, and updating the website and FaceBook page, is Elizabeth Orenstein, who has been doing wonderful work for very reasonable fees.

D. Responsibilities involved in doing projects

1) We also looked at some of the coordination work involved in doing some of the above projects. These included:

a) organizing programming, doing the outreach to the teachers;
b) writing the small grants to fund events;
c) communicating with the people who sign up for an event;
d) coordinating the marketing and outreach for events;
e) coordinating the website and newsletter;
f) checking the mailbox.

2) It would be helpful if these activities (and any additional ones) were distributed among various Core Team members --  possibly in the form of small committees, each of which could include a Board member to ensure coordination with the Board. 

E. Conversation about the Hevreh Kadisha:

1) An initial conversation on this topic centered around, "Do we want the Hevreh Kadisha, to be held by Hevreh? Or, do we want it to be held by Rimon? Or, another possibility might be, that it could be free-standing.

2) The general feeling in the room, was that this would be too much for Rimon to take on at this point, and that it would be preferable for it to be held by Hevreh as a larger organization with greater resources, with Rimon participating as a collaborative member.

3) We learned that Rabbi Hirsch is very committed to the Hevreh Kadisha, and it was a factor of what attracted him to this area. At the same time, he would need support and training from Kaya, just as she previously did with the Chatham group.

4) One concern that surfaced, was to what degree Hevreh would hold the Hevreh Kadisha as a highly inclusive service to the broader Jewish community, whether observant or not.

5) Out of this came Kaya's decision to write a letter to the Hevreh Kadisha members (which are distinct and only somewhat overlapping with the Rimon community) inviting them to participate in a "continuity team" meeting with Rabbi Hirsh and Kaya.

F. Arranging for transitions…

 1) Some of the logistics that will need to be handled at the next Board meeting, include:
            a)  figuring out new authorized signatories for Rimon checks;
            b)  transferring Rimon's files;
            c)  transferring Rimon's financial assets;
            d) transferring ownership of the postal box key.

 2) During our meeting, Bubsy volunteered for the "checking the mailbox" role, since she lives in Great Barrington and also has her own p.o. box. Thank you, Bubsy!!!

  3) Due to some scheduling changes, it was not yet clear when the next Board meeting will be.

  4) One possibility we began to explore, would be to have the next Board meeting be open to those who want to volunteer as Core Team members, so that they can begin working more closely with the Board. We did not have enough time to figure out whether this would be a good idea for the upcoming meeting or not.

  5) What was clear, was that the people present wanted to continue to meet as a community! Once a date is decided on for the next community meeting, it will be sent out to everyone.

IV. Closing circle

We closed with people sharing the moments that they had found most inspiring or touching during our meeting. After that, Kaya led us in a closing niggun.