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How Does Being a Synagogue Member Make My Life Better?

Dear KI Congregants,

“How Does Being a Synagogue Member Make My Life Better?” is the title of an article that I read a number of years ago in a URJ publication. I tucked it away to share on a day such as this.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes, a rabbi of a Reform Congregation in Calabasas, CA asked a former synagogue member if she was going to rejoin the synagogue after being away for a few years. Her answer to him was . . .  “How would being a member make my life better or different?”

 Here is just a part of Rabbi Kipnes reply:

“If you mean physically healthier, it won’t. Join a gym.

If you mean more physically beautiful, it won’t. Go to Nordstrom’s or a make-up artist.

If you mean richer, it won’t. Get a higher-paying job.

If you mean more mentally stable, it won’t. Go to a therapist.

If you mean more knowledgeable, it won’t. Take a class at your local community college.”

But here is what joining a synagogue will do:

Being part of a synagogue means promulgating values that you and your tradition hold dear.

Being part of a community is like ensuring that your room is still there even after you go away to college. You can always come home. And even if you don’t show up, we are still here.

Being part of a community teaches future generations that being a Jew matters, even if you aren’t a power user of the synagogue at the moment.

Being part of a community means that there will always be High Holidays services for you and the community.

It means that you always have a place to turn when you are in need.

It means that there is always Torah in your community

It means that you have a spiritual home.

It means that your values are played out through social justice

It means that you have a place to go to sing Mi Shebeirach when you or someone you know is in pain.

It means that you take responsibility for the next generation, like the previous one did for yours….

And …. It will make you feel more beautiful because you feel better about yourself when you are spiritually centered.

You will feel richer because you will have enriched your life and those of others

You will feel smarter because you will be able to partake in 5,000 years of Jewish knowledge…”

Rabbi Kipnes’ article inspired me to think about my belonging to KI and my role as President of the Congregation.

As long as we must remain socially distant, it gives me hope to know that by belonging, we are still able to grow spiritually together, and we can become more beautiful, smarter, and richer as a community.

How does being a member of KI make your life better?


Janice Schwartz-Donahue

KI President


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