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ROSH HASHANAH 2009/5770

Margie Bogdanow

After I stood before you last year in my Freedberg jacket –made at the company my grandfather founded 75 years ago - I was struck by the number of people who came up to me to tell me that they never knew I was a Freedberg.

When Michael and I got married, I chose to take on Bogdanow – I couldn’t imagine hyphenating Freedberg and Bogdanow and believed that there would not have been room in those little boxes they give you for Marjorie Beth Freedberg Bogdanow.

I left Freedberg behind and proudly became a Bogdanow and for over 25 years didn’t think much about it. However, more recently I sometimes began to want to be known again as Margie Freedberg. This year on Facebook, I “changed” my name and became Margie Freedberg Bogdanow - not really caring about those little boxes any longer – something that maybe happens after you cross 50!

Names can be so important.

50 years ago our Founders named us Temple Isaiah. They gave us a name to live up to.

In May, we celebrated those founders and expressed our gratitude for the legacy that they left us. This October a Yom Shabbat will focus on the book of Isaiah as we continue to celebrate and learn about where we came from, who we are and who we will be in the years to come.

Although it is a year of celebration for us, last year was difficult for congregations across North America. The economy took its toll. We are fortunate that, because of some incredibly generous gifts over the past few years, we were able to weather this storm. However, what I learned is that, contrary to popular belief, we do not yet have the funds to sustain us over time.

Well, that is not exactly true.

To borrow a line from the Temple Presidents List Serve, “The good news my friends is that we do have the money to sustain ourselves. The bad news is that a large part of what we need is still in your personal bank accounts and not in our endowment fund.”

Although I believe that we use our resources extremely well, it is expensive to run a community such as ours.

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary we aim to increase our endowment. We do this not so much for ourselves, but for our future. To make sure that those who come after us will have a solid foundation.

During this year, we will be talking to each of you about how you can help us reach our goals. And if you want to make my life easier, which I know many of you do, you can approach me to begin the conversation and not wait for us to approach you.

Another way that we will continue to fundraise is Isaiah At Your Service. The premise is simple.

Some people donate services or goods, others buy them with the proceeds going to the Temple operating budget. We match people with things to offer with those who need or want those offerings. By so doing, we serve as matchmakers – an ancient Jewish concept.

This is a fundraiser and a community connector at the same time and you can participate in it from the comfort of your own home at a time convenient for you. You can and should learn more about it on our Website.

Our website. 13 years ago our first website was created. It has served us well. However, according to Jewish tradition, the age of 13 is an age of growth and transformation and so, very shortly our web presence will celebrate its Bar Mitzvah with a new look and feel. My hope is that our new website will enable us to grow even closer as a community and will assist those looking for a Jewish community to better learn who we are. In the future we hope to conduct more business online and use fewer trees – understanding that some things will continue to be available on old fashioned, but maybe recycled, paper.

What extraordinary community building we have had this past year! Cantor Doob arrived 14 months ago and has truly used her music, warmth and sensitivity to help connect us to one another. She has so quickly and easily become a part of the clergy team and an integral member of our community. Her arrival has been described as “finding a missing puzzle piece” and I know that has resonated for many.

Rabbi Brown and Rabbi Jaffe each experienced major personal milestones during the past year and both allowed their milestones to bring us closer together as a community - as in March when we celebrated Yael Deborah Gardner’s naming together. What could be more precious than being witness to the power of a Jewish naming - a milestone that brings generations from the past into the present and looks forward to the future. And in May, as a community we celebrated Nate and Talia Jaffe becoming Bnai Mitzvah in our midst. What a gift that was.

On the topic of community building, how can I not mention the extraordinary weekend of ceremony and celebration in May when we kicked off our 50th anniversary year? Everyone who participated in any aspect of that weekend will cherish those memories for years to come. And hopefully, all of you will have a chance to see the displays in our halls, telling our story in words, photos, and memorabilia.

All of these events and all of the things that we do - individually and collectively - make us into the community that we are.

And we are continually working to become a community that celebrates not only life cycle events, but the cycle of life. We want to be here for people during the times of celebration, the times of need and mourning as well as all the other times.

Life is busy and full, bills are ever present, including temple dues. I know that some occasionally question why continue to be a member? What is here for me?

My answer to that question looks at the present and to the future.

Look around this sanctuary. Each and every one of you is important to this community. The multi generations, multi backgrounds, multi talents, multi needs and multi opinions make us who we are. It may be that at certain times you “need” more, or “get” more or “give” more to this community but that ebbs and flows during the cycle of life. You might need to “take a break” from certain kinds of involvement for a while but we are committed to ensuring that we are here whenever you choose to be here – whether for positive reasons or because of some challenge in your life. This is a home where you will always be welcomed and if you let us, will always value you for whatever your particular strengths and gifts are. And so you owe it to yourself to continue to me a member.

And I also believe that those of us who raised children in this community owe it to the next generation to be here for them. I often think about the Talmudic tale about the old man who was planting a sapling by the side of the road when a stranger stopped and asked, “Why are you planting a tree at your age? It will be many years before it provides
fruit and shade. You may not live to enjoy it.” The man replied, “All my life I have enjoyed food and shade provided by those who came before me. As my ancestors planted for me, I plant now for my children and my children’s children.”

And, as we continually say, and believe – if finances are an issue, let us know. No one will ever be kept out of any part of our community because of an inability to pay. No one. Ever.

As we celebrate our 50 years of being a community by looking backwards and, at the same time moving forward, it is clear to me that those who came before us made us who we are today. We remember some of their names and some we have forgotten. But their impact lives on.

And now, it is our turn and our responsibility to ensure that this community, merely an idea 51 years ago, will be here for many more generations. On one hand, as we celebrate the New Year of 5770 – that is five thousand, seven hundred and seventy, 50 seems so insignificant. And yet, on the other hand, for all of the people who have been able to continue their unbroken chain of Judaism or for those who have begun a new chain, those 50 years are incredibly significant and it is our responsibility to keep this community alive.

A midrashic text.
A person has three names:
one that he is called by his father and mother;
one that people know him by,
and one that he acquires for himself.

And so, in the same way that I have a name that I was called by my father and mother, a name that people know me by and a name that I have acquired for myself, so do each of us individually as does our community.

In this year 5770 it is time for each one of us to think about what our legacy will be in this community. What is it that we bring to this community? What name will each of us acquire for ourselves as part of this community? How can we ensure that not only our name but our essence will last longer at Temple Isaiah than any of us will last as individuals?

In some ways, I wish I could stand here and thank – by name – all those who have contributed so much to our community this past year. But, fortunately for us, there are so many people who have contributed in so many important ways, large and small. I don’t want to leave anyone out, nor do I think any of us want to stay here all day. So, please, please know that I, and all of us, thank each and every one of you for your contributions. Your generosity in time, money, ideas, and so many other ways is truly extraordinary.

Michael, Alyssa, Dan and Matt join me in wishing each of you, by whatever name you wish to be thought of, a sweet and happy new year and my hope is that when the inevitable difficulties and celebrations occur this year that we are able to be there for one another.

Lastly, for those of you who are curious, yes, I am once again wearing a classic Freedberg jacket!

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781