Walking into Temple Beth El, one immediately approaches the wall of yahrzeit plaques memorializing our synagogue’s loved ones. The tiny lights always attract the attention of those who are not Jewish and do not know about our customs. For us, it is means more. Before we enter the sanctuary, we face the generations that came before us and are reminded of our history. Many of the names are of former members whose contributions and sacrifices strengthened Temple Beth El and made the synagogue as we know it possible. When we gather to pray, eat, celebrate, mourn, study, and host community events, we are doing so only because those silent names on our memorial wall built our synagogue. We would not be here without them.
As Jews, we are part of a community that spans time and generations, and we are deeply connected to our past. But we are also connected to the future. Our younger generation, the one that now comprises our religious school, that squirms beneath our pews, that fills our building with laughter, and brings joy to so many of us, is our future. In this sense, we are a bridge. Our obligation is to honor our past in the present as we prepare for the future. This is our inheritance, the one we collected and the one we will bequeath. And it is our responsibility. In the day-to-day operation of the synagogue, we deal with issues that demand immediate resolution, like fixing the roof, selecting prayer books, and offering programs, but whether we realize it or not, we are maintaining the foundation that will keep Temple Beth vital and viable. When I begin to feel pessimistic about our future, something always comes along to remind me that there is reason for hope. Phyllis Sherman wrote in this month’s Shofar about our children as our legacy. If you ever become pessimistic about our synagogue or your connection to it, attend a family Shabbat service where the young families and children are present. And keep in mind that a childhood synagogue is a special place that means more to a child than many of us even remember. We are the stewards of this institution and we need to maintain it.
Each year, the Board shares an annual report with the community which includes a financial accounting, and every year that I have been on the Board we have had a deficit. A deficit reflects lost opportunities to invest in our community’s growth, education, and spirituality. For this reason, we should make every effort to not merely eliminate the deficit, but invest in Temple Beth El. I hope you will read the letter from members Hudi Podolsky and Jay Bosley, transplants from California who share their newfound love of and commitment to our synagogue, and join them by matching their donation. In everything we do, we need to remember we are not doing it solely for us, but for the future of Temple Beth El. Please support our synagogue.
On October 19, we joined HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Union of Reform Judaism, and a dozen other Jewish organizations for the National Refugee Shabbat, a service dedicated to the safety of refugees and restoring America’s immigration policies to pre-2017 levels. The event was well-attended, informative, and meaningful. It would not have been a success without the participation of a number of Temple members: Gail and Steve Feuer, Michael Bauer, Janet Sutta, Phyllis Sherman, Bill Simons, Brett Heindl, Jessica Wintringham, Fiona Heindl, Sam Heindl, Deb Marcus, Bernadette Winters-Bell, Andy Puritz, Stan Fox, Michael Jerome, and Roger Chauveron. A special thank you to Jason Capron for serving as an usher, Daniel Kohler for returning to Temple Beth El to perform on clarinet, and Oneonta City Mayor Gary Herzig for his warm welcome.