High Holiday message, 2014
I’d like to make the case for United Brothers Synagogue.
It’s important to ask ourselves, “What is the value of UBS?” “Why is it important for us to continue?”
United Brothers is important because it is a place where we come together to get in touch with our spiritual sides. It provides a spot where we can connect with something bigger than ourselves as well as connecting to our past, present and future.
It forms the center of our Jewish community. Judaism, by its nature, is a communal religion. Traditionally we don’t even pray unless there is a minyan of ten people. Being part of a congregation binds us together. The Torah reading we just read talks about how we all gather together to be in the presence of God.
If you are Jewish, it is an obligation to be part of, and to support the Jewish community. And that means supporting Jewish institutions like United Brothers Synagogue. Because without UBS, Judaism in this area becomes greatly diminished.
So, United Brothers is important. It is important because we need it to be Jewish and we need it to simply practice our religion. We need it because we need a focal point for our community. We need it as a place to celebrate our simchas and to mourn our loved ones who have passed. Beyond these walls we are needed because having a Jewish presence enhances the entire larger community.
We now have a confluence of events that is going to give us generational opportunity to make sure that we continue and thrive into the future.
The first services that were ever held in this building happened exactly 98 years ago. In September of 1916 this portion of the building was unfinished so services were held downstairs. So two years from now, we will be celebrating our building’s centennial. The board has already started planning a 100 year rededication of the building.
As most of you know, a few months ago, a donor who wishes to remain anonymous generously pledged $15,000 to us help us maintain and improve our building. This came to us as a matching grant which means we need to raise an equal amount. As an incentive, the donor also pledged an additional $2,500 if we get a 100% participation in this challenge. So far the results have been encouraging but we haven’t crossed the goal line yet. So if you haven’t contributed, please, please do so. And to those who have already given money, thank you.
As per the donor’s wishes, we plan to spend the money improving the building. So — and as my Grandmother would say, “kin a hora” — in 2016 we will be celebrating the start of year 5777 in a renovated building well positioned to last for another 100 years.
There is another anniversary we should note. Although United Brothers was founded 114 years ago, in the year 1900, the congregation dwindled and in the 1960’s, for about a period of 10 years, there were no services held here. In 1975, a group of families, led by Alton and Gloria Brody, brought this congregation back to life. On April 4, 1975, they held their first services here and United Brothers Synagogue was back in business. We will be marking the 40th anniversary of our revival this April.
We owe these people debt of gratitude and we also owe the generation that founded the congregation in 1900 and built this building in 1916 a debt of gratitude.
These are people who recognized the value and importance of having a place where we can gather together, form a community and practice our religion. Hopefully we can live up to their example and continue into the future.
I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year.