The Value of a Home - Yom Kippur 2013

Good Shabbos, good yuntif.

I would like to speak with you today about the value of a home... Dr. Ron Wolfson, professor at American Jewish University, said in a recent article, "The high holiday period is our annual family reunion."

Welcome to our Temple Israel family reunion — this is our home.

Every two years, a new president, set of officers, and lay leaders are installed. We set goals. We make plans. We hope to make a difference in the two years that we have. My goal is to further develop a sense of community, a feeling of family, where members are committed to one another — not just to the continued existenceof Temple Israel, but also to a place that thrives and grows both spiritually and as a place of connections.... connection to each other and a connection to G-d.

This time of year, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we, as Jews, are asked to reflect on the past year... to take stock of how we are doing. Are we living our lives in a fashion that is truly fulfilling? What commitments can we make to change / improve how we interact with the world around us, our friends, family, our community? We reflect and think about what we want for the coming year. We pray to be written in the Book of Life, we ask that our loved ones and we be granted good health, joy, success, and nachas for ourselves, our family and friends, and for our community. We commit ourselves to be better people, do more mitzvot, help out where we're needed.

Temple Israel is a vibrant and healthy community, seen as leaders in the Conservative movement. That being said, we are undergoing great change and we are developing a framework for evolving our Temple Israel community.

We care deeply about the years ahead of us. We must acknowledge and honor the past and present, while planning for our future. Where and who do we want to be in 3 years...not 10 or 20...but three? We must commit.

Change is coming... What kind of spiritual leader are we looking for? Who will be our next rabbi? Change is coming. Nothing is stagnant — especially a temple community. We can either allow change to happen to us — or we can lead our way through the inevitable change. The ability to evolve enables long-term survival....it takes commitment. What kind of commitment do we wish to make for the next chapter in the life of Temple Israel?

All this talk of commitment:

This is a "commitment time of year." We have a commitment system at TI, which, in the perfect world, now that we are 4 years into our new commitment system, would make the High Holiday appeal (that's what I'm up here doing right now, in case you were wondering) superfluous, it would be unnecessary.

Unfortunately, we live in the real world where our budget is tighter each year and our commitment project, although largely successful, leaves us short.

Why you may ask? We raised all this money for an endowment campaign. Well, it will take many years to actually collect all of these long-term pledges for which we are so grateful, but also know that the endowment is not really for support of the day-to-day operations of the shul.

Again, why you may ask? Why is there a budget shortfall? We are on a "personal value proposition" type of system. It's a wonderful system that allows each and every one of us to think about the meaning of our synagogue: the meaning to us and then, to the very best of our ability, commit funds in line with that sense of commitment, that sense of importance and true understanding of the value of our institution.

The value to you. What is the value of a home?

What does the commitment system mean to you? What does it mean to you to have a relationship with your synagogue?

I ask you to please consider: What is the value of this institution to you and your family? and the next generation, your children, grandchildren? and to the overall Jewish community?

We offer many great opportunities here — services, programs, classes, community events; the list goes on and on... We, especially the clergy and the staff, are here for every member of this congregation, all the time, not just at times of convenience, but 24/7. We are here for you in good times — times of simcha — and sad times — times of trouble or a death in the family. We are a wonderful, caring, giving community here at TI.

So, I want to spark an internal and external dialogue to stimulate the heart and mind. I want to hear from you; I want to know what you think. How can we best serve your needs? And how can we improve on what we already do so well? We are committed to the long-term sustenance of Temple Israel as a kehillah, a community that meets your spiritual and personal needs. How can we best do this? People will come to synagogues for programs, but they will stay for relationships.

Commitment — what is the value of a home?

This home means a lot to my wife Lois, our extended family, and me. I need Temple Israel to be here.

And You? Please make a commitment to yourself and to this wonderful community and turn down one of the tabs on the card you will find by your seat. We look forward to your participation and celebration of our Temple community this coming year.

I know many of you may have heard me say this before (but; I have a captive audience and I might as well take advantage to say it again...):

I can't imagine driving down Pond Street and this place not being here. Who says brick and mortar doesn't matter? It matters to me. I hope it matters to you.

Shabbat Shalom, G'mar Tov!

Arnie Friedman
President, Board of Trustees