I am most thankful and appreciative of the many Congregants who spoke to me after my High Holy Appeal address voicing strong support for our efforts to make sure every family who wishes to be part of TSTI can do so regardless of one’s financial position. At their request, we are publishing my address to act as a reminder that we need everyone to participate. And thank you for all you do to support our whole Community.
My best to all for a Health and Happy 5773,
High Holy Days – 2012/5773
I treasure these holidays for many reasons, not the least of which is that it brings my family together in a Jewish context. I suspect you feel the same. Sitting at dinner with my family, I cannot help but think back to the great and memorable days of my life. I’ve worked for 35 years but none of my days at work stand out in my memory. And I‘ve played a lot of golf and attended a lot of concerts and ballgames, but none of them make the list.
What does stand out? What memories are as clear today as if they happened yesterday? The day of my marriage, the birth of my children, my son’s Bar Mitzvah, my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, my son’s wedding and yes the days when I mourned the loss of both my parents.
What do all these days have in common? This Temple and our clergy. They add to the joy and happiness of the festive occasions. They ease our grief during the times of loss.
That is part of the reason I became President of Temple. I believe in it.
There is another reason I agreed to be president. I wanted to make sure that despite ongoing financial challenges our commitment that involvement in TSTI would be accessible to anyone who sought it regardless of financial constraints. This has long been a priority of TSTI and I became President to insure that this commitment would continue. In fact, this is why my family, like many other families here today, choose to drive by other Synagogues to be a part of this Congregation.
The thought that a family would be denied these memories and the connection to our clergy that my family has enjoyed simply because they could not afford Temple or Religious School membership dues is unacceptable. It is something I cannot and will not accept. I know you feel the same.
And that is why I promised you one year ago that if you would do all you could to support our High Holy Day Appeal I would do everything in my power to continue to insure that every family in need of adjusted dues would receive them.
This promise was fulfilled. You made sure that TSTI would continue to be here for everyone sincerely seeking to be part of it. Thanks to you this community is one in which the doors remain open to all.
Last year the committee tasked with making dues adjustment for those who needed it received dozens of applications. The process took place in complete confidence and the committee members knew the circumstances but not the names of those making the request. Because here is the thing. It is not only making dues adjustment available that matters, it is maintaining the dignity of each household that matters as well. That is how we do things here at TSTI.
Decisions were made with a clear understanding of our budgetary constraints but with compassion. They understood that keeping these families with TSTI was not only the morally right thing to do, but was the right thing to do for our congregation. Because hard times will end, families will return to financial health and TSTI will be the better for it on every level.
Last year your generosity lead to one of our most successful appeals ever: $262,000 was raised. But that was $100,000 less than the dues relief we needed to provide. So again I need your help: to be as generous as you can and to have all our Temple families participate.
Over the course of the past year, I received numerous calls from families granted dues adjustment. They chose to waive the confidentiality of our process in order to thank us. They told me how important it is them to see their children attend religious school and become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. They told me how thankful they are to our clergy for a hospital visit, how comforted they were by the support of the clergy and temple members at times of loss. These are families where a parent may have been laid off, a single parent family with multiple children in our religious school, or a family that faces enormous challenges due to the care of aging parents or any other myriad of reasons. The also spoke to me with words of hope and optimism; that the difficult times will pass and they will return to being full dues paying members of TSTI; and that when that happens they would become supporters and of our High Holy Day Appeal.
But now, they need us, all of us, to be a generous as we can. The families in need cannot look elsewhere. The decision rests with us in this sanctuary. And having to come to know so many of you personally over the last year I know for a certainty, that we will meet this challenge. And during this coming year there will be kids who will be bar or bat mitzvah because of what we have done. There will be families who will be comforted, because of what we have done. And on their behalf and mine.. I thank you.