5781 Appeal from Temple President Liz Sherman

I became President of Shaaray Tefila just over one year ago and oh, what a year it has been. I stood before you last Rosh Hashanah and shared the story of my 56-year relationship with our congregation. I told you about the many ways that Shaaray had changed during that time. But who could have imagined how much more we would all be forced to change during this past year? And how many things that we used to take for granted would no longer be possible or would need to be postponed. For me, that meant not being able to play with my 4 grandchildren. Not going to the movies, museums, or theater. Not getting a cup of coffee with friends. And not having the opportunity to worship in our sanctuary.

In fact, this is the first time I have been here since March when we celebrated Purim together. My emotions are overflowing. I feel incredible joy and wholeness being back here in a place that is filled with so many memories for me. These include special occasions like my confirmation and wedding, and our children’s b’nei mitzvah; community worship on Shabbat and holidays; and ceremonies honoring the death of parents and grandparents.

But something is missing. I look out and I am here without you. I remember once again that this year is different from all the others. This year, I won’t have the opportunity to greet you in person and find out what you and your family have been up to. I won’t be able to hear your voices raised in prayer and song. And I won’t be able to see the smiles of support on your faces while I’m speaking.

This is indeed a challenging time to be the President of Shaaray Tefila or any synagogue. Together with our team, we’ve had to make thoughtful decisions in an ever-changing environment. When COVID-19 hit New York and we decided to close our building, we committed to finding creative ways to be a vibrant, warm, and welcoming synagogue community even without physical walls. Virtually, we worshiped together on Shabbat and holidays. We found new ways to study, travel, learn, and check-in with each other. Our schools continued to provide education and connection for our children from our toddlers to our teens. Together, we mourned the losses of loved ones and made sure to celebrate life events like b’nei mitzvah and weddings. And through it all, our food insecurity programs kept delivering nourishment to our most vulnerable neighbors.

I want to personally thank all those who worked tirelessly to make this possible including our clergy team, all our staff, our Board of Trustees, and our many community volunteers. Together, we are committed to ensuring that Shaaray Tefila continues to be a spiritual home where you can find support in good times and bad; a place to study, learn and connect; and, a caring community dedicated to helping those in need both within the Shaaray community and in the broader world.

But we can’t do it alone. Shaaray Tefila depends on all of you. We need your involvement, your enthusiasm, and really appreciate your decision to be part of this wonderful community. Over these last six months, we have learned that a community without walls costs money. In fact, the financial challenges are greater than in the past. We have had to invest in upgrading our technology so that we can provide even better virtual programming, worship, and lifecycle events for you. And at the same time, we have had to upgrade our facility by installing things like high-quality air filtration systems to make our building safer.

I wish that Shaaray Tefila could succeed relying only on dues but it cannot. And so, we also rely on your generosity. Your board has already stepped up and made their pledges to our Annual Appeal. And many of you have also been early contributors. Thank you for your support!

Now, I am asking the rest of you to do the same. Our goal this year is to achieve 80% participation from our congregation. I know that over the last six months you too have had to make difficult decisions about where to live, how to adjust to new financial challenges, and how to care for your loved ones. But no matter what your circumstances, your support, no matter the amount, is important. It represents your continued commitment to strengthening our Shaaray Tefila community.

You can easily make your gift by going to our website. I want to thank you in advance for joining us in investing in Shaaray Tefila’s future.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I wish you and your family a sweet and healthy year.

L’Shanah Tovah.