From the President


Those of you who receive a monthly paycheck may have had a pleasant surprise this month.  Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act withholding rates have been revised and the amount of Federal Income Tax withheld has gone down for a lot of people.

One of the major changes in the tax law is the elimination of the personal exemption and the doubling of the standard deduction.  The standard deduction for individuals is now $12,000.00 and for married couples it is $24,000.00.  People who have itemized their deductions in the past may find that they no longer need to and that the standard deduction is more favorable.

For those who do itemize, one of the deductions allowed is charitable contributions.  If you do not itemize, however, you do not get the deduction.  Charitable organizations expect a substantial reduction in contributions because many people will not be itemizing their deductions and thus their contributions will no longer be partially offset by a reduction in their taxes.

Temple Beth Emet is a charitable institution.  The membership dues you pay and the other donations you make are deductible on your income tax return if you itemize.  (Standard disclaimer:  Please consult with your tax advisor to determine whether your donation is tax deductible in whole or in part. Nothing in this communication is intended to constitute legal or tax advice).  Due to the increase in the standard deduction, your contributions to Temple Beth Emet may no longer reduce your income tax.

The obligation to financially support Jewish institutions does not, however, depend upon the deductibility of the contribution.  As Rabbi Shawn Zevit wrote in A Torah of Money (Philadelphia: Jewish Reconstructionist Federation 2000) “Jewish tradition views money as an expression of values and a commitment to godly action in the world. Money is a reflection of our priorities, which in turn reflect the values articulated by a communal mission statement. Although they may seem to be mutually exclusive, money and spirituality are in a dynamic relationship in congregations”.

Rabbi Jordan M. Ottenstein is the senior rabbi at Congregation Dor Tamid in Atlanta observed: “Whether it is your synagogue, other institutions in the Jewish community, or charities and service organizations around [our local community] and the country, it is important to remember that, as we open our hearts to the world around us, we can find ways to create a culture of giving: the giving of our money and time, to be sure, but also the giving of our hearts.”

This month, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to love and affairs of the heart.  What better time to remind ourselves to be giving of our money and time, but also our hearts to sustain Temple Beth Emet the Temple With a Heart?”


— IRA L. GOLDSTEIN, President