The Latest from BZBI

Summary of December Board Meeting

December 12, 2019

D’var Torah

Rabbi Annie taught us a new song, praise God for rolling dark to light and back again. This was related to origins of Hanukkah with a midrash about Adam, and then connecting it to community.

Consent Agenda & Announcements

The following were approved with the added comments.

  • Approval of November Board meeting minutes: Secretary Terry Hirshorn corrected spelling for Nancy Colman’s and Jeremy Bannett’s names and will ensure that the Chair’s name is listed on each report.
  • Community report: Chair Eileen Dwell announced the Volunteer Appreciation Brunch scheduled for December 15th and the member directory that is in production.
  • HR Committee: Chair Matt Whitehorn informed us that we have engaged a new payroll company as the previous one made significant mistakes that we have since corrected.
  • Finance report: Chair Brian Bushee
    • We have established an eCheck program with to facilitate payments to BZBI from preschool and member families. Members can complete a half-page form with their checking account information, and then will facilitate a direct debit from their accounts to remit the payments to BZBI. The fee for this service is a flat $0.35 per transaction, which is much lower than the 2.5% fee charged for credit card transactions. The eCheck transactions can be one-off or recurring at the same amount.
    • We are developing an Investment Policy Guideline Statement.
    • We are developing a Stock Gift Policy Statement.

Discussion items

  • We reviewed the parsonage claims of the Rabbis and approved the following: the amount of $81,000 be designated for Rabbi Abe Friedman as a parsonage allowance, the amount of $12,500 be designated for Rabbi Annie Lewis as a parsonage allowance, and the amount of $20,000 be designated for Rabbi Max Nissen as a parsonage allowance. These designations shall be effective until modified by the Board.
  • Executive Director’s report: Harvey Friedrich
    • Next week’s payroll will be the last with our present provider before we stich to ADP.
    • Joint Retirement Board will meet with staff in January to review the retirement program and the benefits of participation.
    • We expect to make an offer on the Communications position shortly.
    • BZBI now a member of Amazon Smile Network. When you make a purchase through Amazon Smile and identify BZBI as the charity of choice, the synagogue will receive 0.05% of their purchase value as a contribution on the eligible item.
    • BZBI is registering as 501c3 charitable non-profit with the IRS.
    • We are opening account at Fidelity Investments for people who want to give the synagogue stock donations, which gives everyone tax advantage. The synagogue sells the stocks with the proceeds going into our operation account. The Transfer cost for this account well be under $10/transaction, where our current account with Wells Fargo is much higher. We will inform congregants who have given stock recently of this update.
    • Meetings have been scheduled with contractors to develop proposals for carpet replacement in the Sanctuary and to replace the pew seat cushions. More information will be available at the next meeting after meeting with the donor family and contractor.
    • We continue to update our security equipment and have had visits from the Director of Security for the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia and the PA Police counter-terrorism group to conduct a security survey and assessment for BZBI. We are applying for Homeland security grants. Police will do more staff training for active shooter.
    • Any board members who do not yet have a copy of BZBI by-laws should ask for them.
  • President’s Report: Nikki Morris
    • We have a draft for a congregation directory that we are editing.
    • Development Report – To date this fiscal year we have pledges and donations(AG) of $122,004.73 of which only $6,374.43 is outstanding (uncollected pledges). AG YTD 2018-19 at this same point last year was $62,635.71 of which $6,458.71 was outstanding (uncollected pledges).
    • Representatives of our community joined Nikki in Boston for the USCJ conference.
    • Congregational survey results: Cara Levinson presented an analysis of the survey based on participation of 259 members, 40 more participants than last year. The results gave us feed-back about our strengths and areas to focus on.