What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Sep 9th 2013

Every person of every generation has a stake in what  happens at Beth Tzedec. Much more than just a place to experience Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, your shul is where so much of Jewish life emanates. From a baby naming to a bat mitzvah, from a marriage to a golden anniversary, Beth Tzedec is the place where you come to celebrate and share life cycle moments, smahot or events of great joy. Rarely do we think of it, but, when you need us most, your synagogue is the place you turn to for spiritual and social guidance. Beth Tzedec is where friends and extended family support you and ensure that you are never alone.

Beth Tzedec is a full-service community where members and visitors are embraced by Jewish culture, wrapped in Jewish traditions and bound together by Jewish values. The artwork that surrounds you, the artifacts in our Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum (with one of the finest Judaica collections in the world), and our dramatic Sanctuary and warm Hendeles Chapel, are linked together to form not only a “house of worship” but a kehillah kedoshah, a sacred community. As you enter through our doors to attend a business meeting, study group or public lecture, everything you experience is presented through a Jewish lens, with a sprinkling of Jewish flavour.

At his Inaugural Address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a line for the ages: “…ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your  country.” His powerful call to action drives every volunteer organization. As Kennedy challenged all Americans to be  activists, to be participants in shaping their own future and to change the future for their community, we too challenge  people to operate reflectively, to see themselves as a part of and not apart from their community and their country. As the Synagogue’s Executive Director and as a Jewish communal worker, I ask—in fact I challenge you—to do the same thing: to do what you can do for your community.

You may ask, “What is the organization doing for me?” Rather than ask this question, focusing on what others are doing for you, I challenge you to seize the opportunity and invest your “self” inyourself; to take advantage of the vast opportunities at Beth Tzedec so you can grow and help others in your community grow along with you. Now is the time to ask, “What can I do for MY Beth Tzedec community?

Our menu of programs and services reflect the diverse desires and interests of our members. We listen and respond to the voices of the members. We have made a commitment to chart a course that will keep our kehillah kedoshah ahead of the curve, keeping our “family” intact and healthy for the future. We strive in our planning to be proactive and to consider the upcoming needs of our members. We are inclusive and not exclusive. We are solution-focused and  creative in approaching today’s challenges. Our actions have produced great strides financially and organizationally and we will continue to stay the course.

In the dawning of the New Year, I ask you to consider seven commitments that will enhance your life and the lives of others. First, when you come to services, commit to becoming an active participant, sing or even lead a Minẖah or Ma’ariv service. Second, commit to attending one of the many stimulating educational options: Monday Night Learning or a lecture run by our Adult Education Committee. Third, extend yourself socially: read and join the discussion at our Book Club, or open your Shabbat table to another member or non-member for dinner. Fourth, challenge yourself culturally by attending or participating in one of our many musical events. Fifth, make a financial investment that will help us improve our infrastructure or will underwrite one of our programs. Sixth, enrol your child or grandchild in any of our weekly exciting and fun youth activities, or come as a family to our family programs. Finally, step back and see the big picture: see how Beth Tzedec embraces you, our members, and consider how much you have to offer to your Beth Tzedec community. When you renew your membership or take that plunge and become a full member of the family, jump in with both feet. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

I invite you to contact me, to share your thoughts and ideas, and to become more involved in our sacred community. And I challenge you to ask yourself what you can do for your people.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and sweet New Year.