May the door of this Synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for friendship

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1 L shanah Tovah. I ve been thinking about doors lately. Partly because when I lock up the building on a Wednesday night I have to go around and shut most of them. When I think of all the doors in this sacred space, I am reminded of a prayer in the Mishkan Tefillah, the prayerbooks we use on Shabbat. It was written by Sidney Greenberg and begins: May the door of this Synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for friendship For me, TBS has been a source of friendship, love and community for the 23 years I ve been coming through those doors. Last week I asked our 8 th and 9 th graders why kids in our congregation stay involved through high school when other temples in our youth group region are having trouble keeping theirs. They told me that we make them feel like they are part of a family. I hope that TBS is that for all of you, too. The prayer continues and includes these wishes:

2 May the door of this Synagogue be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity. May it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness and harshness. I don t know about you, but I am impressed by the cordiality of this community. Here s an example you may not know about: last summer, about a week before the gala dinner to celebrate the Rabbi s 10 th anniversary (and the staff who have worked here 10+ years) it was decided to seat people at tables in advance. It took about half an hour to place everyone at tables, because we are blessed to have a congregation without factions. At many congregations Temple Board Meetings are something of a bloodsport. Last week when our President mentioned at the Board meeting that she was having a bad week, at least two spouses of Board members called her the next day to see if she was alright. We are a caring community. There is, however, one last section to Sydney Greenberg s prayer: May its threshold be no stumbling block to young or straying feet.

3 We re working hard to create that sense of family that our children feel, but they re an easy (and somewhat captive) audience. We see them twice a week at religious school, so we are able to create community with them on a regular basis. We want everyone to experience it, however. Family, friendship and community are the essence of Jewish Communal life. If you have yet to experience the richness and fullness of TBS s embrace, I encourage you to become MORE involved. And as I frequently tell our students as they graduate and go out into the world: if you don t find the community you seek, MAKE it. There are literally MANY doors into the Synagogue (I didn t even talk about the office, classroom wing, and upper sanctuary buildings), I encourage everyone this year to find your way in and cross that metaphoric threshold. But what about our ACTUAL thresholds? Look around at all of our doors. Very few of them are accessible to those with physical limitations. So while we strive to make the community of Temple Beth Shalom open and welcoming to everyone, we must also pay some attention to making our Campus accessible, too.

4 That s where you come in! On your seats are wonderful pledge cards announcing YOUR intention to Make a difference. I hope you will take this opportunity seriously. 100% of the Board of Trustees have made pledges. Here is mine. Last year, we raised $100,000 between Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving. So I know what we are capable of. Here are some of the very necessary things we need to do: We need to make it possible for a person in a wheelchair to participate with dignity in services from the lower bima. It s not a large step up to where 50 weeks a year our services are conducted, but for some of our members it is a huge barrier. We have no curb cutouts in the driveway, so if you are in a wheel chair, or are pushing a stroller, or walking with a walker, you have to walk all the way to the bottom of the driveway, through the handicap parking spaces to get onto a sidewalk. Currently, the only way to get from the Upper Sanctuary to any other place on the campus in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller or walking with a walker is to first go into the street, and then walk all

5 the way to the bottom of the driveway, through the handicap parking spaces to get onto a sidewalk. We also need to rethink the only wheelchair /stroller/walker accessible door to this building to make it possible for someone using any of those devices to enter the building on their own. These may seem like reasonably small projects, but they cost real money which is currently outside of the budget. And they are only some of the projects that need tending to. So here s my challenge to you: If you have at least one good friend in this congregation, make a pledge in his/her honor. If you have celebrated a life cycle event while a member of this congregation, make a pledge in honor of that wedding, baby naming, bar mitzvah, bris or funeral. If you have learned from a teacher in this congregation, make a pledge in his or her honor. If you have participated in an act of social justice or tzedakah as a member of this congregation, make a pledge in honor of the cause you have supported. If you have celebrated a holiday (Rosh Hashanah, say) here at TBS, make a pledge in honor of your favorite holiday. If you have sung in or listened to the choir, make a pledge in honor of our Musical

6 Director and Cantor. If you have read something in Reform Judaism Magazine that made an impact, make a pledge in honor of the Union for Reform Judaism. If you know the names of anyone who works in the office, make a pledge in honor of the TBS staff. If your child attended pre-school here, make a pledge in honor of Leah Lewin and our Preschool faculty. If you had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and can still remember what your Torah portion was, make a pledge in Honor of your portion. If you love latkes, make a pledge in honor of Ned Lavantall and his Latke Lunch Crew. If you ve ever won the TBS Raffle, make a BIG pledge in honor of all the rest of us who never win anything, but always buy a ticket. Every member of the Board of Trustees has made a pledge, so why not make a pledge in honor of the TBS Board? Together I know that we can truly make a difference in the life of this congregation. L shanah Tovah.

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