When we joined Temple Sinai 40+ years ago, Marvin and I were eager to connect with a Jewish community for ourselves and especially for our four young children. Almost from the beginning, he served on various committees and for some years was an officer on the Temple Board. Clearly his desire to be formally involved was far stronger than mine.
Because I had been raised in a New York City Jewish family with no synagogue affiliation, I had no clear idea of what, if anything, I wanted to do as a part of the temple community. Primarily my main focus was to support the efforts of the religious school and the youth group for the sake of my kids and to do as much as I could at home to express our Jewishness by celebrating the holidays and, above all, by making the most of all our lifecycle events as they came along. (Fortunately we had a lot of success in this latter area as different Sinai rabbis saw our children through B’nei Mitzvah, Confirmation, three out of four weddings and eventually baby namings for five of our grandchildren.)
Once all our children were in school full time, I returned to the workplace. That gave me yet another reason to shy away from accepting any Temple commitments that meant holding an office or attending regular meetings. Instead I volunteered for one-time-only assignments such as organizing a white elephant sale, writing an occasional Sisterhood column for the Newsletter, baking and cooking for special occasions, and hosting fund-raising dinners for Sinai House.
Then about 30 years later, when I decided to stop working, I set out to do some meaningful volunteering. Becoming active in Sisterhood hadn’t occurred to me, however, until the day I received a call asking me to become a member of the Board. At that point I said “yes” mainly because I had no excuse to say “no.”
Once involved, it became apparent to me that the women meeting in the library during our monthly Sunday morning sessions approach their work with the same energy and passion I had seen at the office. Their mission to serve the Temple, the Washington community and the greater community clearly comes from the heart. And they are constantly searching for new ways not only to expand their reach but also to attract new members who bring new ideas and new enthusiasm to the table.
It was at that same table more than a year ago that we first discussed resurrecting the idea of a Sisterhood retreat weekend – but with a new approach more suited to the taste of today’s women. As a Co-Chair of this effort to encourage connection both among Temple Sinai women and with our clergy, I can tell you that we achieved all that we hoped for. The 52 women who came together at a Baltimore inn to worship, study, dine and relax now comprise a core group that Sisterhood will be working to expand in the years to come.
This experience is especially gratifying for me as it gives new meaning to my long association with Temple Sinai. In addition, it proves beyond doubt that the more you give to an organization, the more you get back in return.