I received a very nice message yesterday morning from a thoughtful member of the congregation. In light of the terrible cold, she wanted to know if we had a way of checking in on members of our congregation who may have specific challenges because of the weather. She was offering her help to reach out to the senior members of our congregation or anyone else who has a physical challenge to see if they needed anything. I responded by telling her that I was reaching out to as many people as I could. I then stopped to think that this person had a great idea for a new initiative for our congregation. If we truly want to be a caring community, if we want to demonstrate to our members that we care about them and we support them, then we should start a new initiative to make this happen in a more direct way.
I have said many times that among the benefits of being part of a congregation are people with whom to celebrate when we have a Simcha and people who can provide us support when we have a challenge. Both in the time of a loss and in the time of celebration, our congregation comes out to be with people - but these are the more public times and the easier times to respond. I want us to think about more ways we can support one another and reach out to one another in more private ways and in more personal times of need.
The Religious Affairs Committee is working on a new initiative to reach out to members who experience a loss in their family. I would now like us to think about other times we should contact people in need, especially before or after a major storm or other serious weather issues. They seem to happen quite often over the course of a year - a major snow storm, an artic freeze, a hurricane or major rain or even a power outage. These are the moments we should reach out to our friends and fellow congregants to just check in, to see if everything is okay and to offer any help they may need.
This touch point can be a phone call, it can be an e-mail or it can be a text message. But whatever form of contact it is, it will mean so much coming from a member of the congregation in addition to whatever outreach I can do as the Rabbi. I expect these events to happen only a few times a year but each one of them can be a great opportunity to demonstrate care and respect.
Please consider being part of this new initiative by responding to me and telling me that you are willing to make these calls and send these emails. Also, if you would like to be on the list of people to receive these calls, please let me know. Perhaps your family lives out of town and you would feel more comfortable knowing that you had someone locally to make contact with you. Once I have both groups organized, I will match up the people on both lists so that everyone has a call or two to make and everyone else has someone who will check in on them.
The Hebrew word for congregation is Kehillah Kedosha - a sacred community. There are many ways that TJC is a sacred community. By taking on this new initiative and reaching out to more members who made need assistance after a storm, we become and even more caring and sacred community - an even better example of a Kehillah Kedosha.
Thank you for help making this happen.
Rabbi Adam Feldman