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.
Mail: Kol HaNeshama
PO Box 21655
Sarasota, FL 34276
South Gate Community Center
3145 Southgate Circle Sarasota, FL 34239
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