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State of the Kehilla - 5780
Consider my comments made at Rosh Hashana services as a “State of the Kehilla” address:
In a nutshell, we have strengths and we have weaknesses.
Our two greatest strengths are the character of the Kehilla itself, which I’ll expand on, and our financial position. Our financial position is solid - so solid in fact, that I can say that while we are grateful for donations and your financial support, we will not appeal to you for donations. Moreover, over the past year, through the David Katz Memorial Chesed Fund, we donated more than $6,000 to various community charities. Our financial position is strong as a result of the many former members of Shaar Shalom Synagogue who designated Kehillat Chaverim as their new shul and the funds consequently transferred to us. We have also taken care to operate Kehillat Chaverim prudently so that we do not have to dip into this endowment.
We have one major weakness, limited participation in the daily minyan. As a result, we sometimes have to make phone calls to muster a minyan and the responsibilities of attending the minyan and running the shul are borne by a small number of volunteers.
We are appealing to you for a higher level of participation - please don’t wait for a phone call to tell you that we need you for the minyan and please get involved. I can assure you that your participation will make you feel good.
This gets me to the character of the Kehilla. We are a shul unlike most shuls. We are small. We are personal. We are welcoming, we are warm, we are informal and we try hard to be unpretentious. If you want to daven and participate in religious ritual, we are there for you. And if you just want to shmooze and socialize, morning or evening, we are also there for you. If you want to study Talmud in a way that relates to modern life, we are there for you and if you want to perform community service, we are there for you. If you like potato chips, we are there for you.
We are there for you when you want to magnify your happy life events and we are there to comfort you when life events are sad. Since last spring, we were deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Tania Warsh z”l and more recently by the passing of her husband and our dear friend, Darryl Warsh z”l. But we are gratified that we could be there to ease these losses for their family.
Since Kehillat Chaverim started more than 3 years ago, our highest priority has been to make sure that we have twice daily minyanim, especially when someone is saying kaddish or has a yahrzeit. We are gratified to be there when that someone is you. But, you have to understand that the minyan doesn’t happen by chance or by obligation. It happens because of the people who are there, for many, not because they are especially religious, but because they are grateful to others who were there for a minyan when they needed it. In other words, they are there to pay it forward.
Let this be your most important takeaway from my comments - we ask that you keep this in mind in the year ahead and that you also pay it forward to ensure that there will be a continuing minyan at Kehillat Chaverim when you need one. The more you participate, the more you may discover how addictive your participation can become.
Altruism is a funny thing. It means giving without the expectation of getting anything in return. But, here is the secret - even without asking for or expecting any return, your altruism will really make you feel good. This may be why your participation can become addictive. I’m sure that Jerry Warsh can explain the brain chemistry.
Hoping for your continuing and your increased participation at Kehillat Chaverim in the coming year, I wish you peace, health, happiness and good feelings.
Open letter from Ralph Levine:
Shalom to all,
This morning at 5:17 when I awoke and tried to get out of bed I almost couldn't. My back was killing me and my head was aching and I said to myself I am not going to shul this morning.
I am not a very religious guy but I knew that with people away down south and several others ill,we would be short for a minyon.
So I showered ,brushed my teeth, got dressed, had breakfast and went to shul.
Sure enough, we were 2 men short for the minyon and had to make several phone calls.
I don't envy Michael or Steve having to regularly make those calls but they do and since we started our shul, over 19 months ago, we have only missed one minyon .
This past Saturday's parsha was called Shabbat Hasheckel where all Israelites were asked to contribute a half sheckel . Whether you were rich or poor everyone was considered equal in doing their share.
The reason for this email is to ask you to help with the daily minyons. When you have a yahrzeit or have kaddish we make every effort to ensure that there is a minyon for you. So why don't you try to be part of a minyon for others?
You don't have to attend every day but make a commitment for a day a week a day bi-monthly or even just once a month.
Just like the half sheckel donation ensured that the Mishkan was built for the benefit of everyone without a burden on a few, your participation in our minyon will help it to continue and make you feel like you are a part of the whole.
By the way my back is feeling better and I plan on being at shul tonight.
Looking forward to seeing you soon ,best regards.