This column is about writing – mine and yours.
My writing involves the checks from the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund that I have written over the course of the last twelve months, thanks to your generosity. I report to you every year at this time about the good work the Fund has been able to do outside the budgeted expenditures of the congregation.
Almost eight thousand dollars in direct personal assistance has been paid to individuals or on their behalf The needs are as varied as the people, and range from a grocery gift card for a hungry family to emergency assistance for a congregant in crisis. Thank God I have never had to turn away someone in need. In some measure, that is due to the generous spirit of institutions that have accepted my "marker," willing to allow me the time to pay a pledge when their money is more urgently needed elsewhere.
Just over eighty-five hundred dollars has been contributed in various amounts to recipients in the Jewish community. The list includes at least twenty-five recipients, and they include many organizations to which you belong. In fact, most of those contributions come as a result of a congregant calling to my attention a particular need or project. Some, like Federation, JTS and Masorti, are causes we do not support from congregational funds, but ought to. I am glad to make that happen on behalf of the shul.
Another thirty-seven hundred dollars and change was contributed to recipients in the general community. Once again, some of them are institutions you support and some (like the local United Way and ALIVE) deserve a congregational presence. The largest single contribution was from a collection of smaller contributions – the shipping cost of your donated holiday gifts for displaced residents of the Gulf Coast, thanks to the initiative of our volunteer, Orrin Konheim.
Three thousand dollars was used to provide honoraria and expenses for non-budgeted guests of the congregation, including speakers and our summer intern. The vast majority of that amount was covered by designated contributions.
Just under four hundred dollars has been devoted to enhancing the program of the synagogue through the acquisition of books or other audio-visual materials. Appropriate gifts for the staff (now numbering 10) at holiday time, car insurance for our summer intern and, ironically, the fee for checks ($22.48) account for another eighteen hundred dollars.
You can do the math, but the result is an impressive collection of generous acts – yours – enabled by a few strokes of my pen. Some of those delayed pledges still need to be fulfilled. If you would like to help do so, please let me know. But most importantly, please accept my gratitude for making these acts of loving-kindness possible.
As for your writing, the time is here to ask you to contribute to our High Holy Day reflections booklet. As you know, we have published some exceptional pieces of prose, poetry and prayer over the years, written by children and adults, professional writers and inspired rookies. Please consider sharing your talents and thoughts with the congregation. I ask that you try to limit the length so that I don't have to trim your effort in order to make everyone's fit the booklet. Please consider sending me your work electronically at email@example.com (Word is the preferred file format), or, if necessary, by hard copy to the synagogue office.
Thank you over and over for doing the write thing!