Back in early June I voluntarily began my second round, and third term, as President of Temple Shalom. Since we joined in 1993 Ellen and I have been active in one way or another serving the congregation, so for me, this was the right thing to do at the time.
Temple Shalom was founded on and has a long history of volunteerism. The Hebrew word for volunteer is mitnadev. The word literally means “one who becomes noble”. This word reflects Judaism’s ideal attitude toward volunteering, namely that it becomes a self-transformative act that increases one’s sense of nobility by having done good work. Moreover, the word mitnadev tells us that we should treat our volunteers with respect and honor, as if they were nobles visiting our congregation. As an example of the work of volunteers, all of the items you see up here are the result of members giving willingly of their skills to improve the building we have prayed in and the programs we have offered to our members.
Our Founders tell story after story of how they supported each other in times of stress or sadness and celebrated with each other on many other occasions. We need to rediscover that connection.
Each one of our founders considered themselves as a part of the Membership Committee, and the congregation grew to more than 220 family units at the turn of the century.
We have lost a number of members over the past several years, but then so have all the other congregations in Louisville, and not just Jewish congregations. No one has unlocked the secret of how to set an example to the unaffiliated Jewish young people in our city of the feeling of connectedness attained with synagogue affiliation. We are continuing to look for programs that will do that.
With that in mind, I can report that over the past couple of years, thanks to the efforts of Keiron O’Connell and those that worked with him, we have managed to get a handle on our finances. We may not be fully out of the woods, but at least we are marching in the correct direction. We’ve even considered hiring a part time person to coordinate members who volunteer to work on behalf of the congregation. Do we really need such an employee? We should be able to do it on our own, but so far, no one has stepped forward.
Often leaders of the congregation make an appeal to the members for financial support during the High Holy Days. That has not been our way of doing major solicitations. Last summer, when we made you aware of our financial situation, you responded splendidly. Careful stewardship of our spending is helping us out of the woods. When a challenge was given by Bonnie Bizer, z’l, you, as a congregation, responded appropriately and we were able to burn our mortgage. That is how we operate.
Twenty years ago, I offered opportunities for members of Temple Shalom to do something special for the congregation, and with the nearly $70,000 that you pledged we transformed the interior of our home, adding the pews and chairs in the sanctuary, the sound system and a new stove, refrigerator and freezer for the kitchen—items that were needed but could not be included in the budget. This year I am reviving the Temple Improvement Program, TIP 2018. Among the items requested we have already had a member step forward to sponsor a new memorial board that will enable us to serve our congregants for many years to come, and to rearrange where some plaques are located to keep families together. The awning covering our walkway has been an item on our to do list for many years, and we have the sponsorship to allow its completion. Soon you will receive a card that mentions those things that, like the Founders’ Garden or the arboretum that we planted last fall, serve to beautify our home and make it more useful. Please look at the partial list and use this as an opportunity to continue the improvements we would love to see.
November 3rd we will celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Temple Shalom with a dinner, right here in the Alan Kling Auditorium. We will remember our Founders and honor all of those volunteers that make Temple Shalom klick. We will also be showing plans for decorating the windows in the Auditorium to give the room a more finished look but not interfere with the view of the beautiful Founders Garden. At that time, we will also reveal how much of the TIP—Temple Improvement Program 2018, has been funded.
Join us for the many activities that are available here—dinners after No Shush Shabbat and at other times, just to give members a chance to spend time together. Other times we might have a light post service “mini” Oneg with the same purpose— building connection between members. More and more people are offering their time and special skills to help us provide a broader range of events that serve more and more of the congregation. Consider dropping me an email or call me and let’s talk about what you feel you can offer to fellow members of the congregation.
Thank you for the chance to have a brief chat with you. I, along with the rest of the Board of Trustees, are looking for a rebirth of the “can do” spirit that has been the hallmark of Temple Shalom. Let us all find meaning in the next ten days as we remember who we are as individuals and as a community and how we can and will be better people in the coming year. May you have a sweet and healthy new year.