The word is out. By now you know all about our new Terumah membership model for young families at Holy Blossom Temple. (If you don’t, please click here.) It’s based on mutual trust between the generations. It isn’t a freebee or a gimmick. It isn’t a seasonal sale. We believe congregational life is valuable and to be treasured, so we have carefully designed a model that celebrates what Holy Blossom can provide for young families and what young families can provide for Holy Blossom. This new initiative honours what Holy Blossom Temple is today and what the next generation will make of it. The Terumah model highlights the best of what sacred communities do for one another – we stretch to provide for one another. It is a bridge from here to there, built out of free will and good will.
Gifts of the Heart
Last year, just before Rosh HaShanah I spoke with a long-time, loyal member of the congregation who had reported to the Temple office that they were thinking of leaving the Temple. She explained, they don’t come around much anymore and in retirement they are watching their “spending.” When I called I could hear she was conflicted, heavy-hearted. I swapped the language of “dues” for “mitzvah,” and immediately her voiced lightened. “So you want me to pay, Rabbi?” she asked. “Yes! And I want you to feel good about it!” She got it. This wasn’t an imposed tax, but a joyful mitzvah. It is a unique joy to be able to provide for the people and the place you believe in.
The word Terumah comes from the first building campaign of Jewish history. While travelling in the wilderness, the Children of Israel wanted to build a House of God, to feel God’s nearness. Moses instructed them: “Take from among you gifts to the Eternal God, everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them.” People were so inspired, they brought “gold and silver and copper, blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, ram skins, dolphin skins, and acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for anointing oil and aromatic incense, lapis lazuli and other precious stones for setting.” So much so, that Moses eventually declared: “Let no man or woman make further effort toward gifts for the sanctuary.” It is written: “Their efforts had been more than enough for all the tasks to be done.” (Exodus 36)
This bold initiative for young families is a measured risk. We will be successful if everyone – long-time members and newcomers – participates generously with their contributions and enthusiastically by drawing friends, neighbours, and relatives into the Holy Blossom community.
Gifts of Deed
But that’s not all we learn from the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Moses always called upon the people to give of their skills. “Let every skilled person whom God has endowed with skill, everyone who excels in ability undertake the task and carry it out.” Artisans and craftsmen, architects and designers, women at the loom and men at the workbench – each one did her and his part in creating the masterpiece for all to enjoy.
This fall you will receive a questionnaire via our new member portal. You’ll be asked to identify which skills and talents you have to offer to strengthen our congregational life. In retirement, Bob Hodes has become an expert woodworker and has crafted exquisite lecterns for prayer leaders and teachers to use at Holy Blossom. A new, young member, Adam Stiavnicky, has brought his professional skills to strengthen the work of our Finance Committee. Jane Herman, now earning a Masters in Jewish Studies, has offered to lead an Israeli Book Club. Temple Warden, Mary Seldon, hosts a lovely Staff Appreciation lunch in her home each summer. And me? What’s my new contribution this year? Because I believe one of the measuring sticks for a successful congregation is the number of teenagers involved, and because I am so excited about J-TEM. (Learn more here.) I’ve signed myself up to teach our Confirmation Class this year.
Everyone has a talent that can be creatively applied to enrich the life of our congregation. What’s yours? Tell us this fall via the membership portal and one good thing will lead to another.
Please call us with the names of young families who are looking for a synagogue to call home. We will reach out to them personally and welcome them in. Together we are building a strong and beautiful bridge to a vibrant future.