Here we are. Another High Holy Days has come and gone. Has anything changed? Are we any different than 10 days ago? It reminds me of the question asked of me as a child at every birthday, and the question I ask my kids every year at theirs: Do you feel different? The answer of course is, no, we likely don’t feel any different. We don’t feel different because we haven’t done anything different yet. In life, the feeling usually comes from the doing. When you turn 16 years old, you don’t feel different until you get your license and drive alone for the first time. When you turn 21, nothing is any different than the day before, until perhaps, you order a drink for the first time.
What are we going to do different this year that will give meaning to the fact that we have come through another time of repentance? What are we going to do that will give us the feeling that we hoped for as we participated in the rituals of our High Holy Days?
In my Erev Rosh Hashanah speech, affectionately called the High Holy Days Appeal, I asked you to consider what you truly found valuable about Judaism in general, and in Temple Beth Shalom, in particular. In my experience, we all tend to find the time and money for the people, the things, and the activities that are valuable to us. Barring an illness, physical incapacity, or other extenuating circumstances, we attend religious services as often as we do proportionally to the level of value we find in them. We contribute our hard-earned money to charities and religious organizations in the same manner. The question was and is: Does my/your level of involvement in the last 12 months match up to the level of importance that you/I profess for Judaism? Based on your last 12 months, what are the things that are most valuable to you?
According to National Charitable Giving Statistics, the average American Family gives 2% of their families after tax income to their places of worship each year, and another 1% to other charitable organizations. Yes, I am asking for 2%. We each have 168 hours a week. After sleep, we have about 100 hours per week for work and play. 2 hours per week, or 100 hours per year spent furthering Judaism in some way, hopefully a good portion of that time spent here at Temple Beth Shalom. If we all committed to this amount of time each year, we could truly be a valuable asset to our community. In addition, if we all committed to 2% of our income toward furthering Judaism, not only could we better maintain the Temple and grounds, but we could plan more educational opportunities, activities and community outreach projects that would not only benefit the members of our Temple, but the community in general.
Our Temple needs you and me. Our community needs you and me. Our kids need to see you and me at Temple, and actively involved in the perpetuation of Judaism. They, like us, will put their time and effort into the things they find most valuable. Whether we like it or not, they are watching us to see what we truly find valuable. We really have an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on Northwest Florida, but only if we can find the time, energy, and resources. I would like to hear from you. What can we do together to have a lasting impact on our community in the next year? Will we do anything different this year than last?