On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered his historic inaugural address to our country.  He stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”.  It was a civic call to action.  An ask to take personal responsibility—do more and give more.  These powerful words, spoken just over 60 years ago, are as relevant today as they were then.

As Americans, as Jews, as members of our local community and congregation, we have a call to action.  We can use this most basic and necessary human principle to guide us through our congregational life.  Ask not what can be done for you, rather, what can you do for your congregation.  What can you do for your fellow congregant?  How can we act on this call?

Some can offer their time.  Others can contribute their talent.  And then there are those able to provide their treasure.

Over the past several months, I have been humbled by those in our community who continue to ask what he or she can do—as a volunteer—to assist during this time of transition for our Temple and uncertainty in the world around us.  These are the congregants who happily greet you at the door on Shabbat, construct the high holiday tent and stuff envelopes for the office staff.  These are our friends who drop off meals during Rosh Hashanah. These are the people we thank for always fitting Temple B’nai Jeshurun into their busy schedules.  Time.

Can you hear the notes of our talented musicians who bring heart and spirit every Shabbat and holiday?  We thank them for their voices and instruments and the songs that fill our sacred space. We are nourished by the people who bake us fresh challah and fruit filled hamantaschen.  We are warmed by those who meticulously prepare seders for the congregation and delighted by the creatives who craft clever events to entertain the whole family.  Talent.

We are beyond grateful to those who choose to support us by helping to keep our sanctuary brightly lit and warm.  The people who help us to reward our staff and clergy for taking care of every detail and all of our needs.  We thank these congregants who so generously provide scholarships so our children may attend camp year after year.  Our future is encouraging thanks to our sustaining contributors.  Treasure.

Without our congregants and community, and without your gifts of time, talent and treasure, we are only brick and mortar.  When you combine these gifts, and ask what you can do for our congregation, you help us become a beautiful place of worship and life.  I thank those of you who have already given so much of yourself.  In truth, these gifts you give are the three key components in making the foundation for a harmonious and time-enduring congregation.

As we approach Passover, please let me wish you a Chag Pesach Sameach and offer my one wish—“This year in person!” (And if not this year, then the next!).



Dana Dickson