President’s message – November 2010 – Heshvan-Kislev 5771
Passing through towards Thanksgiving
During this month of November, we read of the trials, tribulations, and travels of Jacob and his family, ending with the beginning of the Joseph novella. There is a lot to discussion on Saturday mornings about these stories. I hope that you will be able to join us in these discussions.
This month also features Thanksgiving. We have a lot for which we should be thankful. As a community, we are blessed with a building, active members, and a growing generation of children and younger people.
Still, some echoes of the high holidays influence my thoughts. During the Un’tanehTokef prayer – Who by fire … – we sing that we are sheep passing under the staff of our Shepherd, that our prayers, righteousness, and returning to the right path will make an evil fate pass from us. One of the names of our people – Hebrew – means one who passes through.
Many people have passed through Temple Bnai Israel during its first century. Some are still remembered, some memories are lost. From Noa Baum, our guest artist in her one-woman, many character program on October 17, A Land Twice Promised, sponsored by the Hochberg committee, we learn that memories may sometimes be shadows that separate people. Those who were at Temple Bnai Israel in the past have left us the foundations for a viable community. It is our turn to build memories and “facts on the ground” for the struggle to maintain community for the next generation.
In the coming months, I hope that we might discuss how we might provide community support for each other. In the past, our contributions to the community, what we call dues, have brought in about $120,000 each year. With about 80 families now, one may do the math on what would be an expected average. Some in our community are blessed with financial situations that might enable them to contribute more; some feel that they are not able to contribute anything.
Our tradition introduces the concept that all members of the community should contribute as much as they are able. Everyone included in the census must give a half shekel. This shall be by the sanctuary standard …(Exodus 30:13). What is the value of a half shekel? I think that it is the value that individuals have when they contribute to support and maintain this community in Eastern Connecticut for those who will come after we have passed through.
As winter creeps in, may you and yours find blessings and thanks within your families and within our community. Please look to our community for warmth as the nights grow longer. Each day brings us closer to spring as we pass through the calendar, but we will need each other’s support as we enter winter.