Someone once told me that you get more from giving then you get from receiving and I’ve often thought of that when someone asks me why I volunteer. I volunteer because I believe as a member of the secular and Jewish communities, I have an obligation to work on behalf of people who may not be as fortunate as I am. I also have responsibility to support both monetarily and with effort those organizations that are important to me. Over many decades, I have worked on behalf of synagogues, Federation of the Berkshires, teaching ESL, starting an organization to bring in Refuseniks from the FSU, worked on behalf of many local, state and national elections, volunteered at Tanglewood, recorded science textbooks for recording for the blind and other activities.
At KH, I have held a variety of positions particularly on the interim Rabbi search as well as the
permanent rabbi search. In addition I have worked on nominations, social action projects and a variety
of other activities.
I can honestly say that from each of these endeavors, I have gained friends, satisfaction, new skills, and
yes, sometimes I must admit that I ended up with a headache at two along the way! However it has all
been worth it because I have been the richer for all my volunteer work and each activity has given me a
great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.
Please consider volunteering in some capacity at KH. I promise you you will be the richer for it!
It’s about gratitude, I think. Gratitude for all that I have and am able to do as well as gratitude for what I as a volunteer can get done. This bisynchronous state of giving and receiving makes me feel good. In my opinion, the secret is finding something you like to do. It won’t be hard for you and will be a great benefit to the community.
An example: I like to chat with people. I’m always happy to see them. So volunteering as a greeter for services is fun. People I haven’t seen for a week or a month or a year are fun to talk to, to hug, to make dates with. Maybe it’s my background in sales, maybe it’s just that KH people are so nice. Volunteering is a pleasure, not a chore.
Another example: I’m a pretty good writer. Putting words on paper isn’t hard for me. So I have
volunteered to help with some grant writing, and I have volunteered to write this piece on volunteering.
From time to time, I’ll draft something that might be helpful to a committee. It’s not onerous, but it
I’m grateful there exists a community like KH that gives me the opportunity to match my skills and
interests with the needs of the group. I’m grateful that I have the chance to do something that will
make a difference to others, to make the world a better place. I’m grateful that I can participate in
Tikkun Olam, an opportunity to help repair the universe.
Volunteering for Congregation Kol HaNeshama is both a privilege and a priority in my life. The privilege allows me to serve my immediate community and our greater community, the priority is the Judaic belief of Tzedakah. There are so many opportunities to repair and heal our community and Congregation Kol HaNeshama is the perfect vehicle to assist.
Kol HaNeshama is a warm, welcoming and vibrant community with members from all over the country. We have different life experiences, but one thing that has stood out to me from the
minute we joined was the deep affection and caring each member has for each other. This was proven by the connectedness we maintained during the pandemic. We reached out to each
other on ZOOM and telephone calls to ensure that we all felt a sense of belonging.
I have been involved in several volunteer programs on behalf of Kol HaNeshama. The Social
Action Committee and I spearheaded several programs with Jewish Family and Children’s
Services (JFCS) collecting needed items for Mothers and Babies, Veterans and Elementary
School children. We also provided a program with HOPE of Mantee and Safe Place and Rape
Crisis Center, Inc. (SPARCC), collecting pocketbooks filled with toilettes and other needed
products for women. We are planning new programs for the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024.
I have also had the pleasure of working with our congregants offering education programs to
our congregation. We have had programs by Torah and Talmud scholars, licensed therapists,
authors, architects, visiting Rabbis and many more. We offer Conversational Hebrew and a class
on History and the Torah.
Finally, I have served as Vice-President for three years. Through this position I have made
lasting friendships and I am honored to have served.
One of the best things about Kol HaNeshama is how warm and welcoming the community is. Being part of the community is an amazing gift, and volunteering provides me with a way to feel more connected.
Volunteering on Shabbat is especially wonderful for helping to feel the specialness of the day and sharing that feeling. It is good to be among friends and contribute to the community enjoyment of fellowship.
As one of the founders of KH, I am committed to seeing our community flourish and grow as it meets the needs of a new generation of retirees who seek connectedness, education, opportunities to engage in direct social action and vibrant spiritual experiences. I know that volunteer groups can only succeed when members take responsibility for making things happen, and sharing the work with colleagues makes for solid friendly relationships.
There are many ways that individuals can get involved at KH and many tasks that bring
satisfaction for the volunteer as well as benefits to individuals and the community we serve. We strive to be responsive to our members’ interests and talents, and open to ideas for new
projects and activities. If you have professional skills that can help us to function better or better serve our members and the larger community, get on board. If you want to explore possibilities for involvement, speak with any Board member or officer to work out how to do it.
Hillel is one of the ancient rabbis who participated in the writing of the Talmud. He is probably best known for his aphorisms “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” and “If I am only for myself, what am I?” From this we learn that building a vibrant community requires us to care for both ourselves and for others.
Our congregation depends on the voluntary donation of members’ time. As one of the longer standing member s of Congregation Kol HaNeshama, I have served for over 10 years as board member, secretary, treasurer, class instructor. Working for the Congregation is one of the best ways to get to know one another. Taking classes gives us opportunities to grow in our understanding of our heritage. Singing out loud when we pray, even if off key, gives us an opportunity to feel included.
As I look around the room today I see many faces that were here before I joined Kol HaNeshama. I see many with whom I have worked on one committee or another. And I see a large number of newer members who are taking on leadership roles.
The last piece of Hillel’s aphorism is “If not now, When?”
You can make a difference.
I ended my long career as a public relations counselor/writer/editor with early retirement at age 62. I still recall my sense of elation upon vowing that I would “never write another news release.” I looked forward to a life free from the anxiety of deadlines.
Six months later I made the acquaintance of a group of musicians dedicated to developing the Omaha Chamber Music Society. They asked me to join their board, and before I knew it I was writing news releases and at the center of exciting promotion and publicity efforts. I’d never derived so much satisfaction from using my professional skills, and I’d rarely felt so appreciated. Even so, the responsibilities eventually became more than I was comfortable handling, and I was relieved to leave the board when my husband and I moved to Sarasota.
In addition to introducing me to the joys of volunteering, the experience taught me the importance of keeping volunteer responsibilities in check. When I joined the KH Communications Committee, it was with the understanding that I would take responsible for only one aspect of publicity – preparing items for the “Jewish Happenings” column of the monthly issues of The Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee. Since then, I also agreed to offer editorial assistance to the KH Website Committee.
I’m delighted to “give back” to the congregation and to partner with other KH members, so long as I can do so on a limited basis. I encourage other members of the congregation to find their own viable niche and to experience the pleasure of “giving and getting” as a KH volunteer.