I tried to forget that at the same time Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was at the UN claiming that Israel had no roots in the Middle East and would eventually be “eliminated.”
When we got to synagogue in the morning, we took sight of our annual appeal card on our seat asking for a contribution to the synagogue. We always make a donation on Yom Kippur, but after paying our annual dues, for tickets to High Holiday services and Hebrew School fees, we give what we can afford.
After an hour of beautiful prayer, the Rabbi started his sermon, and hence his appeal. He kicked it off talking about a girl on the Upper West Side who goes from shul to shul (“shul hopping”) during the year to sample various activities and programs at each one. He said that he didn’t necessarily condone her behavior but understood her need to look for the best in each community. As I listened to him, I said to myself and to my husband, that’s me! He was talking about me (not really). I’ve always been like that, both when I lived in NYC and where I live now. I have never found the absolutely perfect synagogue to suit my needs. But like the girl in the story, I belong to one and I pay my dues. However, I don’t have everything that I need there spiritually.
The Rabbi went on to talk about our need for community, blah, blah, blah. And then he got to the part that nearly made me fall off my seat. He stated, without hesitation, that some of the community at the shul should be able to give 10K to the synagogue He clearly stated that this community is one with big pockets and we can help the unfortunate who do not have enough money to pay their dues attend the shul.
This is what you call the annual Kol Nidre appeal. It happens year after year. Most Jews haven’t been in a shul all year long, and as soon as they enter, they’re asked to make a pledge. This is after buying tickets, very expensive ones, to attend services in the first place. Yom Kippur is supposed to be about reflection and redemption. I believe in helping out people who need it most, believe me, but wish it could happen differently.
Let’s bring the people who haven’t been in shul all year long back.
What do you think? Am I totally off base?