President’s Yom Kippur Appeal

Yom Kippur Appeal: 2018


As I was preparing for today’s remarks, I was reminded of a story that I recently heard.  Saul and Ester Gittlemen of Temple Beth Israel in Long Island just celebrated their 60thwedding anniversary.  There was a special Shabbat service in their honor that their entire family attended.  After the service, their 3 kids presented them with a gift of a lifetime that they had always dreamed of, a vacation to a number of South Sea Islands including Tahiti. Words couldn’t describe how thrilled they were by the generosity of their children.

So, the day arrived, and they were on the 2ndleg of their flight, departing from Los Angeles. About 5 hours into the flight, the Captain gets on the intercom and announces that the plane is experiencing severe electrical problems, their radio is out and they have to land immediately. Fortunately, there is an island nearby that has a beach they can land on safely.  Unfortunately, the island is uninhabited and because of the electrical problem, no one will know that they are there.  Off course Ester and Saul are panicking, but hope for the best.  The plane does land safely and they are stranded on the island.  At least there is plenty of food and water.  So, that night Saul asks Ester.  “Since we were going to be gone for a month, did you pay our bills for the month?  Ester replies, “Not only did I pay them for the month, I paid them for 2 months just to be sure”  Saul was relieved and asked, “Did you even pay our Temple’s annual appeal bill?” Ester replied, “I’m so sorry Saul, but I thought we would be back in time, and I would have plenty of time to send in the check later.”  When he heard this, Saul started jumping up and down.  He grabbed Ester and gave her the biggest kiss he had ever given her and said,   “We’re saved, the Temple Finance Committee will find us.”

All kidding aside, everyone in this sanctuary has heard numerous High Holiday Appeals from the President of the congregation.  I can even remember sitting through them as a boy at Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh.  The message is always the same, dues cover less than 50% of expenses and the rest has to come from somewhere else.

At Temple Sinai, we are no different. If you pay for our staff, our facility and our programming and divide the total by the number of members, it costs $2,700 per member unit to keep the doors open and to provide you with the services that you expect.  “$2700”  It doesn’t take a math wizard to realize that we can only stay in business, if we make up the rest elsewhere.  Deficit spending and dipping into our reserves is not a stable long-term strategy.  The annual appeal is our main way of ensuring our financial survival.

So, again, what is at stake?  Jews have been around for 5,000 years.  For us to be around even 100 years from now is dependent on keeping Temples financially solvent.  Let’s put this on personal terms.  Do you want your great grand children to be Jewish?  If so, the time to act is here and now. Temples world wide are the vehicle for keeping Judaism alive by maintaining our traditions and culture and educating our children. 

Jews are among the most giving people in the world.  If you review the lists of donors for various charities, it will illustrate a wide array of Jewish support.  In the arts, it could even be the majority of supporters.  Unfortunately, we give to others, but NO ONE else is going to give to us to keep our synagogues alive.  We have to do it ourselves.

You are all in Temple today for a reason. Is that reason important enough to want our religion to be viable for generations to come?

So ponder this question, Should Temple’s exist?  If the answer is yes, then everyone needs to step up and do his or her part.  There can be no bystanders.  Simply stating that someone else will take on this burden is shirking your responsibility as a Jew.

So I’d like to suggest a program that’s simple and affordable.  It’s called a “Ticket to the future of Judaism.”

If you have regularly given to the annual appeal, we thank you.  All we ask is that you increase your contribution this year by a minimum of $100.

If you haven’t given to the annual appeal, and there are significant members of our congregation who have not, commit to $100.  That’s $8.33 per month, not even the cost of one lunch out.  Ask yourself the question: Is keeping Temple Sinai financially viable worth an additional $100 to you?

When you send your check in, write “Ticket” in the note section of the check, or, if it would be more affordable, you can call the office and we can  charge your credit card for $8.33 per month or more if you can.

Temple Sinai is a remarkable place; please help us to keep it as a viable pathway to the future of Judaism.

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.

 Gary Kravitz