Dear WJC Family,
One of Judaism’s greatest strengths is to provide an oasis of stability in the shifting sands of history. It is in trying times that the constancy of our connection to one another and the eternity of our community is so important. Indeed, the current pandemic has highlighted just how inter-reliant we all are. At times like these, we must consider our priorities and how we will support our synagogue so that we can continue our mission of being the “Center of our Jewish Lives.”
This Friday we began Elul, marking our first step towards the High Holidays. In “This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared,” Alan Lew’s seminal work about the High Holidays, he writes, “during Elul, we cultivated an awareness of our actual circumstances, the dust that we will return to, the fragility and impermanence of our life.” This year that statement takes on profound meaning. We approach 5781 with a new understanding of just how fragile life is and how quickly our world can be destabilized. Rabbi Lew was correct; we were completely unprepared for this unwanted reality-check, and like most every person and organization in this new reality, our Westchester Jewish Center faces new challenges.
Over these past five months, we have found new ways to connect and care for one another while remaining true to our communal identity and to our core mission and values. We are working hard to connect with you in new ways, to assure that WJC continues to be available as a spiritual home for you and your family, even in this altered reality. Part of that reality is that we are facing a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars primarily due to changes in personal financial situations, impact on the ECC, increased need in the community, and augmented costs in providing our services.
As you know, the Kol Nidre Appeal is the major annual fundraiser for WJC. The health of our Center is very much dependent on its success. As Rabbi Segelman would remind us, “this isn’t the icing on the cake, it is the cake.” This year, given all of the extraordinary challenges we face to meet the needs of our community, the “cake” must be larger than ever before, and time is of the essence. It is for this reason that I am coming to you in advance of the holidays to ask for your support.
These are difficult times for all of us. Yet it is also an opportunity for us to join together and step up to do our collective part. Participating in this campaign will let us rise above fulfilling our requirement to give tzedakah as part of our High Holiday teshuva (repentance) process. It is also a unique moment for every one of us to contribute something and to be joined together in securing our community’s future. If you have been blessed to weather this storm more fortunately than others in our community, please consider increasing your donation from last year.
Our theme for this High Holiday season is “Connected by the Call,” the sound of the shofar brings us together even when we cannot see each other. We are similarly connected by our commitment to Jewish life and the Jewish people; by the contributions that bind us together as a community and allow WJC to be effective in our mission.
We will be sending a contribution card like the one we would normally use at Kol Nidre, but for this particular High Holidays, I ask you not to wait. Instead of a “Kol Nidre Appeal” consider this year an “Elul Appeal.” Make tzedakah to the shul a part of your High Holidays preparation. You can participate by clicking here or returning the pledge form to the office. If you have any questions, would like to know the amount you contributed last year or would like to discuss your pledge, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the office or with me.
With hope and optimism for the year to come,