Over the last few weeks I have been actively engaged in challenging members of our synagogue to commit to one morning or evening service a week in order to ensure those who are in mourning or observing a Yahrzeit the mandatory quorum of ten Jewish adults. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.
Let's look at the numbers. With a membership of more than seven hundred families, and by taking the multiplier of two per family, we have about fourteen-hundred active adult members. In a perfect world, this means that if each of us attended two non-Shabbat and non-Yom Tov services per year, to augment the bereaved and the clergy, we would never have to be concerned about maintaining the quorum. It is that simple but the task has been a difficult one.
It seems that neither service is held at a convenient time. The morning service held each day at 7:30 a.m. except on Sundays, makes it tough on commuters, car-poolers, late risers, dog-walkers and early to job workers. It conflicts with doctor and dentist appointments, blood clinics, exercise classes, early flights, meet-the-teacher appointments and tee-off times. The evening service, usually held at sundown during winter months and at 7:00 p.m. during the summer, pose similar challenges to our membership. Too early, too late, still at work, on the lake, tired from skiing, late appointments, guests for supper, tickets to the theatre, kids are sick and all of the above. I know this because I have been personally involved with everything I have just mentioned and now, like many other veteran members (notice how I refuse to admit to being an older member) I am away for most of the winter. And this is not a criticism as it merely reflects the realities of our lives.
I began with the leadership of our congregation as we always do. These are people who already give selflessly of their time to our synagogue and most responded in a positive manner as usual. But we cannot expect these twenty or so individuals to always carry the ball. So that is why I am writing this note to the general membership asking for your commitment of two days a year or two days a month or one service a week every week.
A few years ago, several members campaigned vociferously for women to be counted to the minyan and for our synagogue to become an even more egalitarian congregation. We need those campaigners to come in and take pleasure in the rights they fought for. We need those members who say they enjoy participatory services to join us. We need those who were provided with a quorum in their hours of darkness and loss to return those gestures of kindness to others.
Most of all, we need members to make a commitment as we do for bridge and golf and the gym, because without that, there may come a day when we can no longer provide that service and that may be the day when you need one. We cannot mandate attendance. It is an act of kindness that must be completely voluntary. Most of us at one time or another have volunteered to donate blood, have given time at community centres, delivered meals-on-wheels, acted as crossing-guards, entertained at senior residences, volunteered in hospitals, bicycled for a cure for cancer and on and on, all necessary and worthy endeavours as responsible and caring members of our society.
We need that kind of commitment, however brief, so that those of us who need a minyan, have a minyan. Our synagogue is an extension of our families and our families need your participation and support. Please give this some thought and I look forward to seeing you on the days that I have committed to.