Dear WJC Family,
By now, I hope you have watched my presentation of Mitchell Chefitz’s short tale The Curse of Blessings. If not you can see it by clicking here. The story teaches that our sense of holiness in the world and, in fact, our very souls grow and develop not from the blessings we receive but from the blessings we give.
It is similar to a lesson Rabbi Segelman taught us many years ago in the name of Rav Eliyahu Dessler—we love because of what we give to something or someone, not because of what we receive. Yes, it may be counterintuitive, but when you really think about how your love deepens for your children, your spouse or even for the Jewish people or an organization, it is from what we give, what we invest IN them that expands our connection to them much more than what we get out of them.
I hope that this moment is a moment of reconnection for our community, a moment to share blessings and cultivate communal love. As our 2022 High Holiday theme “Replenishing Our Souls” implies, it has been an arduous few years and we can use all the spiritual strength we can muster as we move forward in a world not quite like the one we knew before. There are a number of effective ways to replenish our spirit on the High Holidays. One important way is to share our material blessings by making a Kol Nidre pledge to WJC.
Your clergy and lay leadership are working hard to chart the best path forward for a community that has changed significantly in the last three years. We have even undertaken a comprehensive strategic planning process and hope we will receive input data from all of you that helps us make decisions about the future. As part of the process, we are addressing the implications of COVID, the rise of Antisemitism, and the significant increase in gun violence. Clearly, we have entered a new era that will require significantly more focus and costs to address the critical issues of today’s world. And of course, this will be in addition to the regular costs of our programming and staff. The health and safety of everyone who enters our facility or is associated with WJC is our highest priority and we need your support to adapt to this new environment.
As our tradition teaches, giving tzedakah is an essential part of the High Holiday process—“teshuva, tefillah, and tzedakah avert the evil decree.” As I’d hoped when I described us as butterflies in my appeal last year, despite being as delicate as the butterflies making their intergenerational journeys of hundreds of miles, despite the threatening storms, we have been resilient. With God’s help, we are poised for a steadier flight forward. This High Holiday season, I am asking for you to give not only to replenish the resources of this sacred congregation, but because giving Tzedaka and supporting our precious Jewish community is a way to replenish your own soul, to help grow and regrow the love and commitment that bind us together and make this congregation so special. As we seek to replenish ourselves from the spiritual exhaustion plaguing nearly everyone these days and to return to the path God has set for us, let us rekindle our commitment through investment in our relationship with WJC. We will do whatever it takes to continue to build a WJC that is even more welcoming, beautiful, safe and accessible than ever before. Thank you for bonding your future to ours through your generosity.
This year we will once again be running a paperless campaign without pledge cards at holiday services. I hope you will make your pledge online or call the office and one of the staff will be glad to help you with your pledge.
During these days of blessing,
may we unite even more closely through blessing,
Rabbi Jeffrey M. Arnowitz