PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – August 2018
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God and deeds of kindness.” – Shimon the Righteous (Pirkei Avot 1:2)
Pirkei Avot, known as Ethics of the Fathers, is unique in Talmud in that it contains a discussion of Jewish ethics, rather than Jewish law. In Pirkei Avot we find ethical teaching and maxims passed down from Moses through the generations to the Rabbis of the two centuries before and during the Common Era.
At the outset we are instructed that the world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God (prayer), and deeds of kindness. The world can be seen as a three-legged stool. Take away any one leg, and the stool falls.
A synagogue can be seen as a three-legged stool as well. A synagogue stands on three things: spirituality, community, and financial support.
While spirituality can be difficult to define, a synagogue must be rooted in the ancient traditions of prayer and practice of Judaism, but also provide a personal relevance of those traditions to modern society. I have always felt that Temple Beth Emet has always nurtured spirituality in our Temple family, whatever the background of its individual family members.
The second leg is the people of the community. Rabbi often thanks people for attending services joking that without those present, it would be lonely for Robyn, Kyle, and him to conduct services all alone. Without the community, there is no synagogue. There is a trend in our society of decreasing involvement with organized religion. At Temple Beth Emet we struggle, as do all religious communities, with that trend. When those looking for a religious institution find us, they tend to become part of our family. The trouble is that fewer and fewer people are looking for such connection. It is up to those of us who make up Temple Beth Emet community to actively seek out and invite others to visit us.
Finally, a synagogue cannot exist without the sustained and substantial financial support of its community. This has been a continuing problem for us at Temple Beth Emet, and the situation has become, quite frankly, an existential threat. Most successful congregations – Jewish and otherwise – have a small number of major benefactors as well as the continued financial support of the membership at large. We are not blessed with big donors. Consequently, each of us must look upon ourselves as responsible for the financial well-being of our Temple. In addition to our dues, we can make additional contributions for yahrzeits, at the High Holidays, and through our Go-Fund-Me account. We can also make an additional donation to the Temple for no other reason other than that we want to make sure our Temple thrives.
Temple Beth Emet is a three-legged stool with two wobbly legs. We are a warm and welcoming community offering a place for people of all backgrounds a place to worship, learn, and grow spiritually together, as well as a place to instill in our children a strong Jewish identity. Our preschool has become a place to nurture the youngest of our community and neighbors in a loving learning environment. But we need to grow our membership and involve our members in our programs more fully in all aspects. We need to increase the sustained financial support from our individual members and also increase the number of individual members supporting our Temple.
As we approach the High Holidays next month, I urge each and every one of you to look deep within yourselves and find a way to dig deeper to support and sustain Temple Beth Emet – by increased financial support AND by bringing new people to become part of our Temple family.
A synagogue stands on three things: spirituality, community, and financial support. In this, the 60th year of our Temple Beth Emet, the Temple With a Heart, we cannot let our Temple fall. Instead, let us rise to support and grow our Temple so that 60 years from now, the Temple Beth Emet community will look at our accomplishments and strive to emulate them.
— IRA L. GOLDSTEIN, President