Where the worlds of Synagogues and Federation meet

I hope all of you had meaningful Rosh HaShanah experiences this year. I saw someone on Facebook compare Rosh HaShanah to Thanksgiving – family, being grateful and football – and it was a good weekend for the Jets and the Giants as well as what I hope is a good start for all of us!

One of the things I enjoy most about the holidays is the chance to sit quietly in synagogue and think. I also enjoy looking around to see my friends and their children – and now grandchildren for some of them. After almost 20 years as a member of Oheb Shalom Congregation, I find many of these families are more like relatives than friends. It's the way of congregational life – you work together on projects and events, you see each other on Shabbat and holidays and along the way you learn each other's stories. You watch the little children you've known since before they were born become bar and bat mitzvah and, the next thing you know, they're off to college. You share in celebration and in sorrow and everything in between.

I've had a more privileged seat in the synagogue world than others might have because I served as president of Oheb Shalom. And I do mean privileged – not in the sense of being important, but in the sense of having the opportunity to get to meet so many congregants and to know them in moments of great need and in great joy. It was a lot of work and it did take a lot of my time, but I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve my synagogue. During that time, I always said that I wouldn't have been able to be synagogue president without the training I received from UJC, and now, five or six years later, I can still see that my time as president of Oheb has helped make me a better federation leader.

The intersection between the world of synagogue and the world of federation is certainly not an experience unique to me. The overlap in the Venn diagram between synagogue involvement and UJC MetroWest is considerable. Those of us who volunteer for federation, or who work for federation, are, by and large, also active in our synagogues. This is not surprising – if you understand the need to help Jewish community, you understand that synagogues are definitely places where Jewish community happens. In an effort to uncover even more lines of connection between MetroWest congregations and the federation, several UJC leaders will be visiting synagogue Boards of Trustees in the coming months. As much as we want to let you know what opportunities there are for synagogues to partner with the programs and services of UJC and our beneficiary agencies, we want to find out what we can do for the synagogues to enhance their programs and services.

So, if you are on the board of your synagogue, first – thank you! You are the backbone and the brains of a very important place. Second, if you want to find out more about the intersecting lines of connection and partnership with UJC MetroWest, let us know. Call Stacey Brown at (973) 929-3027 or email her at sbrown@ujcnj.org to discuss having someone come speak at a board meeting or other venue.

Wishing you and your families a meaningful fast and a good seal in the Book of Life.

Leslie

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