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Yom Kippur Appeal Speech – 2017

10/02/2017 09:39:03 AM


Ken Usen


Shanah Tovah


As president of the congregation, I would like to welcome everyone, our members, relatives and guests to our Yom Kippur morning service. I would like once again to thank everyone who has made these High Holiday services possible. So this is the point in the service where I will try to take your mind off of food for a few minutes and I can do that by talking about, yes you guessed it, money!


These High Holiday services are conducted by Temple Beth Am. As you know we are a small Northern Westchester congregation of about 150 members. Yet when I look around this morning there have to be at least 400 people here. I’m not here to brag about crowd size but as evident by this attendance and by the response to the many events and celebrations that we conduct, we are truly a small Temple that thinks big.


I would like to ask you to take a moment to reflect on why you are here this morning. Perhaps it’s because you just come to High Holiday services. With many of us our lives are very busy and this is the one time that we take the time to connect with Judaism. Maybe it’s because your spouse of significant other made you feel guilty and you gave in and came to the service. Maybe it’s because you feel that you have committed a lot of sins this year and you feel that it is important that you atone and try to do better next year. Maybe you came for the show at the theater and you now realize that it is actually next week but you decided to stay anyway because this is so nice. Many of us, as Temple members come because we are part of the Beth Am community and this is an important part of our observance. There is no right or wrong answer. For all of as Jews at this the holiest time of the year we come together as one community of people to worship, to ask for forgiveness and to have a spiritual start to the new year.


Please remember that these High Holiday services are possible because of Temple Beth Am. If Beth Am did not exist, we would not be worshiping here in this wonderful way today. Perhaps we would be worshiping somewhere else. But I don’t have to tell you that it would not be the as a Beth Am service. Don’t worry Temple Beth Am has been here for over 50 years and we will be here for many years to come. But the fact of the matter is that it is becoming more and more difficult to financially sustain a synagogue today. Traditionally we have relied mostly on membership dues and fees for the operation of our Temple.


It was last year at this time that I first spoke to you about our financial challenges. It is no longer possible for a synagogue to survive financially on membership dues alone. The fact is that on average reform and conservative synagogues derive 17% of their funding from other sources including donations, fundraising and the generosity of benefactors. Last year I told you that we had only received 5% of our funding from these other sources. This year, through increased awareness, and your generosity this has increased to 8.9%. The Yom Kippur appeal as well as our legacy walkway undertaking and the very successful Big Band Dinner dance helped to get us to this point. I am pleased to inform you that for the first time in 4 years we have turned the corner from running a deficit to ending the 2016-17 fiscal year with a small budget surplus. While this is very good news, we still must work extra hard to maintain this positive momentum and to rebuild our badly depleted capital reserve (emergency) fund. Last year $8,500 was raised from the appeal. Every dollar of this went to the operation of the Temple. This year I want to set the goal for the Yom Kippur appeal at $10,000. Please give whatever you can. Every dollar that you give will help to get us to the goal. If every individual present today gave just $25 we would meet this goal. So please donate as much or as little as you are able. Pledge cards are in the front cover of your prayer books and are also available on the table in the lobby. Please make it a priority to fill out your pledge and return it to the Temple in the pre addressed envelope or drop it off in the Temple office or click here to pledge online.


I thank you in advance for your continued support and for your participation in today’s service. May you all have a happy and a healthy new year.


Shanah Tovah

Please click here to pledge online

Mon, July 16 2018 4 Av 5778