Who are the most important people in our congregation? I could make the case for those who volunteer their time and effort, for those who contribute sums of money, for those who drive their children to religious school and youth groups, for those who are the future of Jewish life, and even for those of us who are the paid professionals. And most certainly, we could not survive for long without all of those folks, and more. I am grateful for every member and every gesture of support.
Any synagogue, however, can make that claim. Institutionally, the people who show up and ante up are the life-blood of the organization. In that sense, one shul is no different from another.
Some people have generously suggested that the talents of our professional staff set us apart. It is a flattering compliment for each of us, but it is off the mark.
The most important people in our congregation are the ones whose life-styles reflect the values of Agudas Achim Congregation and Conservative Judaism outside the administrative obligations of membership. They are those of you who keep kosher, who observe Shabbat, who engage in Jewish learning for its own sake, who perform acts of loving kindness. But most especially, they are those of you who regularly attend minyan.
When I arrived here some time during the last century, we (allegedly) had a minyan three mornings a week. In spite of the devotion of a few, we frequently fell short of the necessary ten. As people experienced the tragedy of mourning, they came to find solace in the daily gathering of community. For five years now, we have scheduled a service twice each day. And though some days are tougher than others, those minyanim have been sustained, especially by the folks who live in proximity to the synagogue..
And now, the daily minyan has developed not only regular members, but regular leaders – those who conduct, those who read Torah, those who are gabbaim, those who encourage tzedakah, those who welcome. Mourners conclude their period of kaddish and remain as regulars. Even those who live a distance from the building make it a point to establish a pattern of attendance.
If our congregation has a reputation as a faithful and caring community, it is because of the women and men who fill the Flax Family Chapel with the praise of God morning and evening. And they are saving a place for you.