In membership, mymembership, mymembership, stories

By Phyllis Segal Denaburg.

Holy Blossom Temple is a mosaic of communities within a community. Being a member of a community has its rewards as well as its obligations.

That’s where the lines begin to blur. Let me share my personal experiences in a number of Holy Blossom communities.

I am an ex-Montrealer who arrived here after living in Jerusalem, Boston, and Ithaca, New York. As a newcomer to Toronto, with a new job, and newly married, Holy Blossom was not high on my list of places to be on a Friday night. Like many Holy Blossom Temple members I only stepped foot in the building on the High Holidays.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I’m not sure how we became involved, but the first community I joined was at Shabbat morning Family Services in the Youth Chapel. While there have been a few enhancements over the past 20 years, it’s a formula that works – services led jointly by a rabbi and a musician, with many opportunities for participation in the service for children and adults. The highlight for me, in addition to the concurrent adult/children Torah study during the service was the Kiddush brunch that followed the service. The food was always delicious and I most enjoyed ‘schmoozing’ with other parents while our children played. It was more than just attending services, or eating a meal.

We were a community.

From the safety and warmth of the Family Services community I branched out into communities that serve the larger community at Holy Blossom – I am a gabbai and an usher who helps out during Shabbat and High Holiday services, and currently serve on the Board. The obligation to serve my community is most often outweighed by the warmth and personal satisfaction I feel.

Another community I am proud to be a longtime member of is the Out of the Cold Program.

Through the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, we are able to serve dinners to over 100 guests who need a hot meal, once a week for 22 weeks. Over 40 guests stay overnight on mattresses in the Philip Smith foyer. I work with a terrific crew who miraculously appear every second Friday of the program at 5:30am to make breakfast for our sleepy guests and clean up the so that Kiddush and simchas can happen later that day.

I am learning the true meaning of the Talmudic phrase ‘Kol Yisrael Arevim zeh la zeh’, (All of Israel is responsible for one another). Even within our Holy Blossom community we can help each other.

Another way you can help others in our Holy Blossom community in addition to volunteering your time is through the Holy Blossom Congregational Appeal. Many in our congregation face financial hardships.

Funds from this appeal directly subsidize membership fees, ensuring membership for all regardless of financial circumstance. It is through this campaign that we truly ensure that our Holy Blossom community continues to be an inclusive and vibrant centre of Jewish life.

Holy Blossom may seem to be a large community, but if you get involved, you will not only discover the smaller communities that connect us all together but will also reap the rewards and personal satisfaction of helping others as part of the colourful and caring community of Holy Blossom Temple.

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