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June 2023

Dear Community:

We each have our reasons.  We have a reason to wake up at 6AM….we have a reason to bake extra cookies for our neighbors…we have a reason to deny ourselves spending money on an outfit because we want it, rather than need it.  

I joined JCO because of community. I wanted to meet people where I live. I wanted those people to have a common interest with me. I wanted to develop that common interest. I had no desire to become more spiritual that I am since I feel that’s a very personal & private part of me. I don’t read or speak Hebrew and frankly, I have no desire to learn at the moment.  But it is important to me to keep our Jewish traditions alive so our children and our children’s children will have the understanding and backbone of our people. Community. Period.

Let’s fast forward….to the now.  For the second time, I shared with another congregant that any book with the name of Hashem should not be used as a drum. I willingly and anxiously light the shabbat candles with fellow congregants and say the prayer in Hebrew (as best as I can). I listen to the weekly drash from our spiritual leaders and look for the lesson. I attend Torah Study, originally to support the originator of the program, then for the community, and now (realizing that I would never be able to sustain my life under the original rules of the Torah) for the lesson to apply in my life today.  I attend the Red Tent for community, but I’m deriving so many lessons from the other women in our community. 

That’s just a little bit about me.  I believe that the people who are involved in JCO, or who are thinking of being involved in JCO, should know a bit about the Board President.  I have completed the first year of the two-year term in this capacity and I honestly think I’m more excited now about JCO than I was a year ago.  To be frank, I’ve been accused of being ‘too wordy’ in the last 12 months of President’s Letters, but how can I not be---there’s just soo much to share!

For instance:  At our Listening Groups that we offered all congregants to come and participate so the Board could hear what you wanted (which, btw, we will be doing annually—please be amongst those who lend their voice), we heard that more music, more clergy was wanted for our services.  This Listening Group idea works!!  Beginning this month, Cantor Mitzi will be leading services two times a month.  Typically, on the 1st and 3rd Fridays (with Rabbi Lisa leading us on the 2nd and 4th Fridays and Sheila being with us on the 5th Fridays or whenever asked---Heartfelt & warm thanks to Sheila!!).  However, this month, June 2023, there is a group of congregants going to Israel with Sheila and Rabbi Lisa so our schedule has been adjusted to accommodate the travel dates.  This includes having congregant RICK BLOOM lead our services on June 16th .  I sure hope you attend all June’s Shabbat Services to welcome our spiritual leaders to the pulpit. 

Another For instance, our Speaker Series is ‘kicking off’ in June.  This is a program that I, personally, have been working on for months and I’m beyond thrilled to have it come to fruition.  Each month we will be bringing to you, our community, a special event that will touch on three categories (in rotation): Health & Well-being: Education & Entertainment: Forward Planning.  All programs will require pre-registration via our eNewsletter or on the website. This month, please join us for a workshop on the Ethical Will.  Registration will close in early June, so don’t dawdle in taking action for this June 7th event.

The following months have lined up very well and we are sure there is something for everyone, if not everything for everyone.  Most of these programs will be part of your paid membership.  All of these programs will require pre-registration (unfortunately no one will be admitted without being registered). And if you have any questions regarding the Speaker Series please reach out to Barbara Nelson at ---and many thanks to Barbara for becoming our Program Chair.

Our Annual Meeting was held May 24.  Ballots were calculated by Jeff Loebl & overseen by Rick Bloom. (thank you gentlemen).  The four open positions were filled by an overwhelming majority.  Let’s welcome to the Board Barbara Nelson; welcome back Sheila Cohn and thank Stephanie Goldie-Brasacchio and Ira Levin for committing to another 2 years.  A heartfelt bravo.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to deeply thank Sharon West and Leah Hecker for their years of Board service.  It takes a team and they certainly participated wholly.

July 14 we will be able to witness the Becoming Jewish ceremony of one of our very active congregants and we hope you will attend to welcome her into Judaism.  It will be very important that you pre-register for the special Oneg that will follow.  Please keep your eyes open for the announcement in an upcoming eNewsletter.

I keep reflecting on how much I feel I have grown from being in the position of President.  It’s humbling, exciting and so worthwhile to serve.  Thank you for allowing me to stay in this role.  I look forward to meeting more and more of you who are connected to our Jewish Community of Ojai.  For those who do not routinely join us for services or our other events, please come.  Our doors are open. 



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