It is the time of year to report to you on the disposition of the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund. It is harder than ever to describe to you how the fund was used because the needs this past year were so varied and larger than ever before.
The result is that the many smaller contributions I could make in your name mostly fell by the wayside. It has long been my desire to keep Agudas Achim on record as supporting many of the non-profits that benefit our community and our people. I regret that other demands have made that less possible. Please consider picking up the slack by making slightly larger gifts to the tzedakot you support, and by mentioning the shul when you do.
Your contributions enabled a number of precious Jewish children to get their start in our pre-school. As a matter of policy and economics, little scholarship money is available. I had the privilege of making up the difference for some families who were not willing to settle for less than a solid foundation in their little ones’ lives. Similarly, I offered full scholarships to USY Encampment for our teens, and seven of them accepted the offer.
A number of you made contributions to fund particular needs in our community. These funds enabled a high school senior to become an American citizen and become the first member of his family to attend college; they covered significant expenses for the final arrangements made for a beloved congregant; they have supported two dear families in distressed health; they have seen six people through temporary shortages of money for rent or other living expenses. And we have made a modest but meaningful contribution to the Virginia Theological Seminary to help them rebuild their chapel, lost to fire.
Some off-budget items that enhance the synagogue were purchased with discretionary funds. The Torah place markers we use on Shabbat and weekdays came home with our congregational trip to Israel. The microwave in the front office was replaced after twenty years — a pretty good return on that initial investment. And you now enjoy wireless internet access in the synagogue because of a (very inexpensive) plug-and-play router.
As has long been the custom (long approved by the board), synagogue staff received small holiday gifts. A number of our college students received support for service and charitable efforts. Two visiting scholars received expense checks. And less than a thousand dollars went to cover other unbudgeted expenses mostly associated with my teaching or job-related travel.
As I say each year, but with increasing understanding, I am grateful for the trust you put in me to distribute your tzedakah. It makes me prouder every time to be your rabbi.