April 12, 2024 -

A New Hope – It’s Going to Be OK

This post on If Not Now, When?, the interactive blog of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, was shared by Fairmount Temple Board President on Rosh Hashanah, 2020

Shana Tova!  I’m Todd Silverman and it is my honor to be the President of Fairmount Temple.  I stand with you tonight full of gratitude and appreciation for all of you, and with hope and optimism that our congregation begins a new year!

  • I’m so happy to be here actually in our Sanctuary, and I so wish you were all here with us! I can see your smiling faces in my mind’s eye and can feel your spirit here too.
  • The hallmark of my Presidency and the one homework assignment I gave you last year at this time was to protect and preserve the Ner Tamid – our everlasting flame of the Jewish People. And you have done it!  In a year unlike any other in our history, we have done this together.  Here you see it burning brightly with pride and promise behind me.

One of the greatest gifts of belonging to this special temple is the relationships I’ve had the pleasure to develop with you.  I had no idea I would forge bonds with people across every generation!  This sort of thing can only happen at a temple built like ours.  But it is no accident.

Fairmount Temple goes to great efforts to create multi-generational education, social action, and caring community initiatives. Our Strategic Plan called for us to recognize this as a key characteristic of our community and we are following through on it. This is why it is so critical for us to continue our mission: “Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple is a Reform congregation that strives to perpetuate Jewish tradition and strengthen Jewish lives through lifelong learning, worship, social action, and deeds of loving kindness.” You all embody this and you all are living it.

I want to give special thanks to our Clergy, our Executive Director, our Administrative Staff, the Board of Directors, our Religious School, our Early Childhood Center, and everyone at temple who pivoted to a new way of life starting last March with no warning.

I am encouraged to report that our Engagement is up as we support one another from a distance. We are UNITED.  We are still a vibrant community and wherever we are is always a sacred place – in our building or on our computers!

For these reasons I’m full of HOPE and OPTIMISM.

As we start 5781 this is a time of reckoning and a defining moment in our 178-year history and how we come out of this will have lasting effects for generations to come.  It has been painful and the pandemic has impacted every single one of us directly.  We’ve all lost something this year.

But I’m here to tell you that we’ve endured hard times before – both as a congregation and our Jewish ancestors going back thousands of years. We have overcome these challenges every time.  We are being tested, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where he or she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he or she stands at times of challenge and controversy”.

While this current obstacle is big and ugly, we will eventually rise above it, I promise you!  I placed a Latin phrase in my office years ago as a constant reminder during difficult times that things will get better and it is “Fortitudine Vincimus” – translated it means “By Endurance we conquer”. This is no different.

It will take a lot of effort. I know this congregation and I know you all are a resilient bunch, full of grit & determination.  We all will need to dig deeper, but I know we can!  We’ve come too far together.

So you know we have an election, right?  Although it isn’t a candidate I want to speak to you about today.  I want to talk to you about the ballot because a lot is at stake.  Let me tell you who & what I’m voting for and why.

I’m voting for you, all of you, and for Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. I vote for our Clergy, I vote for our Religious School, I vote for our community.  I’m voting for healing and peace, racial justice, for equality, I’m voting for spiritual fulfillment.  I vote for us to survive and thrive.  What I am voting for I can’t get on my own.  I’ll need your help.

Therefore, I’m asking each of you to step up during this uniquely challenging time and preserve this temple and its heritage! You have the power to make a real difference.

Your gifts of time, ideas and financial support, your vision of how temple can be spiritually fulfilling and relevant in its worship, education, and social action work, all of these are ways you can engage right now in the life of Fairmount Temple! Contact me or our clergy and set up some time to connect with you.  Join this journey with me.  I promise it will be worth it.

Some say why bother belonging to a synagogue right now?  My answer is we need synagogue now more than ever!  If not now, when?  Temple is always here for us during the most stressful times.  Rabbi Hillel taught, “Do not separate yourself from the community” as a reminder that EACH of us is responsible for our WHOLE community.

The past several months have proven that people are starving for stability, for community, for continuity. This is a transformational time for our spirituality, our religion, and actually all aspects of our lives.  How will we measure up?  How will we hold it together?

This is the Kiddish cup of my great grandfather, a man I never knew.  He died very young and when my father passed it to me, I was too young to comprehend its value.  But now I’ve come to appreciate it in a different way.  First of all, it is a direct lineage from him to me and you can tell it has been dinged up a bit.  It is imperfect, just like each of us.  It is not about the cup!  It is ALL ABOUT WHO HAS HELD THIS CUP – an unbroken chain honoring our religion.  I’ve asked you to cast a vote for our synagogue.  Why?

Do it for your parents and grandparents for your kids and grandkids. This Kiddish cup, the one I drink from every Friday after services, ties me to the past, and its continual use by my kids and their kids belies its importance for our future.  Vote for Fairmount Temple.  Vote for “us”, vote for perpetuation of our values and ideals.  I know this: if we all cast this vote, we all win.  Anshe Chesed Fairmount temple wins!

I want you to close your eyes for a moment and think of a time you had within our sacred community that makes you smile – a B’nai Mitzvah, a wedding,a consecration or a confirmation, Simcah Torah, Purim.  You got one?

Now open your eyes as I stand alongside you and tell you that you will have them here again. I promise!  You will enjoy them safely here in the future.  Think of the sheer joy, the excitement, the sense of spirit that we will all feel when it is safe for us to be here at temple in person.

We have good reason for hope and optimism in 5781 !

Thank you and SHANA TOVAH !

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