Dear WJC Family,
Hopefully, you were able to join us in-person or virtually for Kol Nidre. If you missed it, please take a couple of minutes to read the 2020 Kol Nidre Appeal text below and see what makes a newly placed Rabbi decide his community is “magic.” Then come back to the next paragraph. Otherwise, please keep reading.
Many of you have responded to my appeal and we are so grateful. Others of you may have that pledge number in your head but haven’t yet had the opportunity to follow through and be part of our 100% participation goal. The number is not the important thing; the important thing is that you make a gift that is meaningful to you. I hope that you will take just one minute, click here and join us in keeping the magic flowing for this moment and for the many generations to come. I hope you will also consider donating the cost of the seats you purchased last year and hopefully will be able to sit in again next year, please God.
I hope you appreciated one of my favorite stories, The Magic of Kol Nidre, which I read along with Cantor Goldberg’s powerful chanting. I cannot read that story without getting teary. Indeed the very magic the story speaks about pervading the synagogue on Kol Nidre flows out of the pages of that book. It is the very same magic I have been able to experience since becoming rabbi of the Westchester Jewish Center just over a year ago. And what a year it’s been —it’s true—but the magic is no less present, maybe even more so.
Around Purim time when we were closing our doors I was anxious that the magic might come to a screeching stop. In the eight-months I’d been here I’d gotten to experience so much of that magic—the connection between the generations who started this place and the present leadership, the enthusiasm and exceptional capabilities of our volunteers, the love of Judaism, tradition, and indeed this shul.
But if anything, the pandemic has made the magic even more apparent. The energy that so many of you have put forth, amidst lives turned upside-down and futures thrown into question. Many of you rose up and said Rabbi, how can we help? What can we do? And we have done so much – the fabric of this congregation has been on display in outreach to vulnerable congregants to help them with their needs, in our ability to keep minyan going, first only on virtual platforms and then as soon as it was possible and safe morning minyan in-person—and we have not missed making a minyan since it started again in early June—perhaps a summer record! Our schools continued on in Zoom sessions including the continued providing of youth services and Shabbat Zooms for the ECC with the cantor and me. And who we are has been on display at virtual baby naming’s and brises as well as the comfort of shiva, even in a Zoom room where we managed to find ways to share comfort and support. The magic didn’t die with our closed doors, it burst forth into the community and I couldn’t be more proud.
Now I have to ask you to do one more thing to keep the magic going as it has been going for 100 years so that we can move strongly into the future and insure that Jewish life and tradition remain strong here in Mamaroneck and Larchmont and beyond. Many of you know that we started our Kol Nidre appeal early this year and many of you have already made generous contributions for which we are so grateful. Our goal, though, is for each one of you to participate, at whatever level you can, even if you haven’t been part of this campaign in the past. I want everyone to participate because that is part of the magic too. It is why Tzedakah, along with Teshuva and Tefillah, is an essential part of these most holy days. Because Tzedakah has magic too—by everyone giving we are bonded together, each of us taking ownership of the magic that is WJC.
As Rav Jef would say every year, this appeal is an essential part of our budget —not the icing on the cake, but the cake. And this year, we have the difficult combination of unexpected added expenses required to fuel our innovation, adaptation, and safety as well as reduction in revenue all due to COVID. So, if you are able, I am asking you to increase your gift by one giving level to help compensate for those who may not be able to give as they have in the past. Tami and I upped our pledge by 20% this year. Can you join us in doing that? Also, a big burden on the synagogue’s budget is that we didn’t charge anyone for a seat this year. That is obviously the correct decision, but those seat sales account for literally $200,000 in revenue. Can you add the amount you usually pay for seats to your Kol Nidre donation? Just call the office and they can tell you that amount. It can be a huge difference maker for the shul.
Of course, things are a little different this year, so I am asking you to start your Yom Kippur journey tonight with Tzedakah by deciding on a number, decide on a number right now and commit to that number. As soon as Yom Kippur ends, and you will get reminders, please make a pledge by visiting wjcenter.org and clicking the Kol Nidre Appeal link or calling the office on Tuesday and telling them your pledge and that you’d like to donate the amount of your seats. Like the Magic of Kol Nidre, we can insure that the mitzvot, the goodness, the holiness, continues on at our shul and in this little corner of Westchester for generations to come. Can you imagine the magical feeling when next month Seth gives a report on the Kol Nidre Appeal and is able to say we doubled our participation from last year? That we are approaching 100% participation? Help us to share the magic, so this sacred community can continue strongly through this difficult time and for future generations.