It's hard to find a way to express our collective gratitude to the folks who invest their time and effort in making our synagogue community the place that it is. Certainly, there is always room for improvement, but there are some people whose most unsung volunteering creates a foundation the rest of us have come to take for granted.
Some of us have been discussing how to say just a little more than "thank you" and we think we have an idea.
On many Friday evenings during the year an individual or group of individuals will sponsor the Oneg Shabbat in honor of an occasion. (Most usual - the Simcha Shabbat monthly oneg in which YOU can participate!) Other times, the after-worship oneg is made available to those who attend by the congregation. No matter whose name is on the announcement sheet, it is an invitation to enjoy the camaraderie and conversation that is part of the very essence of Shabbat.
Beginning after the holidays, each Friday evening that the congregation itself sponsors the oneg, it will be in honor of someone who deserves our thanks. Perhaps it will be for something internal to the congregation; perhaps it will be for something in the wider community that brings a little extra spark or sparkle to Agudas Achim. And given the modesty that generally accompanies such folks' generous behavior, we won't make a big deal of listing what they do.
But I'll make an exception this first time just so you know what we are talking about. Ed Newberger began attending minyan morning and evening when he was bereaved of his parents. Though it is now many years since Sara Mae and Reuben died, there is barely a morning or evening that Ed is not present to be part of that quorum. When the group totals less than ten, Ed calls and gently requests others to come, not surrendering until all options are exhausted.
If you attend minyan regularly you already know about Ed. If you attend infrequently (without his call) you see him standing in his usual spot participating as just another Jew. But his devotion to the mitzvah of daily public prayer makes us one of the few congregations in the area - and the only one in Northern Virginia - that enables people to pray together and recite kaddish when necessary on a daily basis.
So when you come to shul on Friday night, October 12, you will read on the announcement sheet, "The congregation and guests are cordially invited to the Oneg Shabbat, sponsored by Agudas Achim Congregation in honor of Ed Newberger."
Thanks, Ed, and to all our future honorees. And if you know someone (not a staff member or elected officer) worth honoring, let us know.