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Lay Leadership Installation and Volunteer Recognition Shabbat Remarks

From Shabbat Services on Friday, September 9, 2022  by Andrew Altman, President

We’re experiencing a very special night. Many years ago, Brian Rissinger, our amazing executive director, told me that about one-third of all congregants are volunteering each year. That’s such an impressive number – and that for me helps define the best of KI. So many of you give of your time, offer your skills, your ideas, create and execute plans, and otherwise improve the lives of our congregants and community members alike. 

I hope you know that under normal circumstances, I would never have dreamed to bring Queen Elizabeth to the bimah, but today’s World Jewish Congress statement mourning Queen Elizabeth mirrors a shared world view of the Queen, no matter the views on the Monarchy as an institution. This statement honors the Queen by calling attention to her  “life of service and faith, in which love of country, Commonwealth, God, and family was the supreme value.” 

The Queen had very little authority but so much power — and the intense internal desire to use that power for the good of the whole, despite any personal costs. 

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh beZeh” (“All Jews are responsible one to another” — including people of all faiths and no faith) is the Talmudic lesson The World Jewish Congress might have been referencing in its statement — (a good bet since I found this quote on its website).

In this spirit, tonight we recognize those of you who assist the office staff, chair a committee, serve on a committee, serve on a board, support community members, plan and put on special events, entertain us, provoke thought and action, and so much more.

I’m glad you’re here tonight to be recognized and to celebrate the best of KI together. Congregants of all ages and all stages strengthen KI every day.

Your work inspires me. Your desire to leave the world a better place than when you entered it, to play your part in Tikun Olam, is so central to KI’s identity as a beacon in American Reform Judaism.

As we used to say at Greenpeace, we are blessed to have ordinary people doing extraordinary things every day. 

Shabbat Shalom.