Some of you have elected to acknowledge important occasions in your life or appreciation for the good efforts of the synagogue with contributions to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund. Each year I report to you on its distribution with the knowledge that the good work I am able to do is really a reflection of your giving. Thank you for entrusting me with the ability to respond to needs otherwise unmet.
Any number of personal needs arise during the course of the year. More than $8,000 distributed this year was for scholarship aid for young people pursuing an education that will lift them to another level of success. (The needs next year will be greater due to anticipated cutbacks in institution-based financial assistance.) People facing emergencies accounted for more than $1,700 of allocations - rent due, utilities about to be cut off, empty pantries for their children. Other personal crises resulted in more than $1,200 in opportunities. It is important to note here that the Jewish Federation and Jewish Social Service Agency has been generous to congregations throughout the area in providing funds for some of this work, in our case $1,000. The total for this group of allocations is more than $9,000.
Next are those contributions that enable the congregation to support worthy causes; we have no budget for these requests. The contributions total just over $8,000, and they include Jewish community institutions like Federation, the Hebrew Free Burial Society, the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, United Synagogue and various institutions doing educational and social work in the US and in Israel. They also include ALIVE and some other community-based organizations, usually because of requests from congregants. (My policy: I will support a good cause as long as it does not violate Shabbat.) It is also worth noting the important and underfunded work being done for Virginia college students at Hillels around the Commonwealth; over $1,300 of the above total was directed to them.
The synagogue itself was funded for programs and other needs not included in the budget. The largest portion of the more than $4,500 went to JSSA to underwrite our synagogue liaison whose help to members has been invaluable. The rest went to speakers, panelists, presenters and support for the JCCNV shlichut position that brings Israel closer to us.
About $2,000 enabled me to represent the congregation at community events over the course of the year, and the fund enabled the congregation to acknowledge the good work of our growing staff during the winter holidays with modest tokens of appreciation.
And $12 each went to two administrative matters: new checks (first order in about a dozen years) and dreidles for young visitors during Chanukkah.
The total is pretty remarkable, and arrives in contributions that are significant to the donor even if they are (mostly) relatively small as a part of the whole. I thank you again for enabling me to do such good work on your behalf.