Gary Kravitz’s Yom Kippur Address for Kadima B’yachad

Yom Kippur Appeal: 2019

 Gud Yuntif

A recent visitor to Israel attended a recital and concert at the Moscovitz Auditorium. He was quite impressed with the architecture and the acoustics.  He inquired of the tour guide,
“Is this magnificent auditorium named after Chaim Moscovitz, the famous Talmudic scholar?”   “No,” replied the guide.
“It is named after Sam Moscovitz, the writer.”  The guest replied curiously, That’s strange, to have his name used for such a structure, ” I never heard of him. What did he write?”

“A check”, replied the guide.

Now that we are in the proper spirit for giving and the annual appeal, let’s talk about Temple Sinai.

For Temple Sinai, the year 5780 is the start of an exciting journey, and I have been searching this summer for an innovative way to talk about a subject that supports our new beginning, that I’m sure everyone in the Temple is eager to hear about, giving to this year’s annual appeal.  I did considerable research, and would it surprise you if I said that finding a way to discuss this has perplexed synagogue presidents for over a century. When you do a google search on the topic, you find a variety of speeches that relay a similar message, dues cover half of the budget and the annual appeal has to cover a good bit of the other half.  Here at Temple Sinai, we have been innovative in our approach to fund raising.  We have a successful pre-school program that generates a surplus.  Our food festival, catering services, bagel production, Gala and a few other items contribute to the budget  But at the end of the day, I am standing before you as many of my fellow presidents are doing today to speak of  relevancy, to illustrate our value and to incentivize you to contribute to make up the shortfall in our budget.

In my research, I discovered that the root of Yom Kippur fund raising goes back to World War 1.  Rabbi’s throughout the US appealed directly to their congregants for funds with which to help their European cousins whose homes and lives had been destroyed by the ravages of war.  Since then, the theme has been expanded to include help for Israel, resettling refugees,  retiring the temple’s mortgage and even fixing the plumbing.

Following World War 2, congregations came up with all kinds of ways to expand the process that had been started.  In the synagogue in Pittsburgh, where Sandy and I were married, they even went so far as to call out every congregant’s name from the bimah, and ask how much they were going to contribute that year.  Don’t worry, I assure you; we will never go that far.

The challenge remains to square the imperatives of raising money with the rhythms of a sacred service.   The issue that everyone must recognize is that we are caught between the realities of modern Jewish life and its onerous fiscal demands.

So, here is Temple Sinai’s pitch.  Our theme for this year is Kadima B’yachad, or forward together.  Why is this meaningful? Because, the leadership of Temple Sinai has built the infrastructure for the future.  We have hired a marvelous Rabbi who inspires us with her warmth and scholarship, our Chazzan mesmerizes us with his voice and musical interpretations, investments have been made in safety and security, we brought in an energetic and creative religious school director, redid our sound system, sustained our beautiful building and kept a full slate of programs and services and revolutionized our kitchen and food service.  We are a congregation that wants to be unique, innovative, relevant and forward thinking.  Because our dues don’t cover the cost of running our Temple, we can’t do all of this without your additional financial support.  Kadima B’yachad, forward together.

You are all here, because there is something relevant about Temple Sinai in your lives.  It could be love of Judaism, religious observance, building Jewish friendships, educating and ensuring a Jewish experience for your children or just being part of a wonderful community.

Because you are here, it shows that Temple Sinai has importance in your life, and we are asking you to be part of the Kadima B’Yachad, Forward Together program.  Our goal is 100 % participation.  If you have never contributed, it can be as small as a chai, or $18.  If you have given in the past, we are asking for an 8% increase in honor of Temple Sinai’s 28th year.  It’s simple to donate.  Either go to the front page of our website and click on the Kadima B’Yachad link or mail in the form that was sent to all of you.

Temple Sinai is an amazing place with an incredible future.

We have laid the groundwork, and our future is in your hands.  We need your help to preserve and grow.

Kadima B’Yachad, Forward Together.

In closing I would like to wish everyone a Gamar Chatimah Tovah –

May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.