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President’s High Holy Day Appeal 5783~ Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre

Good Yontif, everyone.  First, Thank you —  for your generous support of KI in so many different forms over the years! Your demonstrations of faith in the future of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel have allowed us to serve our congregants and our community in so many ways and remain a beacon of education, social justice and action, communal engagement, and so much more. We appreciate you, and we’re glad you’re here.

I’m Andrew Altman, president of KI, and I’m so gratified to see all of you this morning — filling seats here in the Sanctuary basking in the glow of sunlight streaming through the Landau Windows, and online, streaming from around the world. Welcome! 

Welcome to Lisa David, and Rabbi David’s parents Rabbi Jerome David and Peggy, and additional family who are all here this morning. Rabbi, we are pleased to mark this special occasion of your first high holy day season with the KI community.

Thank you, Rabbi David, Cantor Levy, Hazzan Tilman, organist Andrew Senn, our professional choir, cellist Jesse Reagan Mann, and Jeff Miller on trumpet and Shofar, Ross Levy and the Levites, Kira Levy, Liz Sussman, Brian Rissinger, our Ushers, and everyone involved for all of the beautiful and meaningful services over the past ten days. It really does take a Congregation!

Over the past few years, KI staff, clergy, lay leadership, and congregants met — and continue to meet today — the ongoing challenges of our times, including a pandemic, with compassion and resolve. We all made sure to offer opportunities for congregants to worship, commune, celebrate, mourn, and serve those in need including the hungry and lonely. We remained connected with members through thousands of phone calls, Zoom meetings, streaming, and outdoor events.  

Here we are now, at our tenth day of Repentance in 5783, of Reflection, worshiping together. 

Ten days ago, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, I asked us all to heed the call to action brought forth by the blowing of the Shofar. I asked:  What role does KI play in our future? What role do we play in KI’s future? In other words: Why KI?

This morning, I again call on all of us to discover, or rediscover, our particular why, and apply it to our what and how. Your ‘why’ might spark you to join one of our forty synagogue committees, help plan an event for the congregation, bring a friend to Shabbat services or to one of our Torah or Talmud study sessions, attend an arts or education program, volunteer with one of our many social action and justice programs, add KI to your Estate Planning, or make that High Holy Day gift you’ve been thinking about. 

In fact, you may have seen by now the High Holy Day Appeal in your email inbox, or on our social media, or on our website. Please consider our appeal —  you have the opportunity to help KI help your fellow congregants and our community-at-large by responding generously. 

Your response each year helps make possible the increasingly important pastoral care phone calls, visits, and meetings, all congregational programs, and critical human services that we deliver to families in need every day. 

These are not just generic terms. You know someone, probably multiple congregants, who have received compassionate pastoral care recently. You’ve witnessed how our Inclusion, Social Action, and Justice programs have lifted people up with a meal, a willing ear, a hug, a word of affirmation, or simply representation. You no doubt know someone who’s held a life cycle event at KI this past year or has one planned for the coming year.

And you know congregants and guests who thrive on the opportunities KI offers to worship, pray, learn, rejoice, and find solace together within a Jewish context.  

I hope that you agree with me that KI makes us realize the value of community today in our often chaotic and unpredictable world. It offers for many people emotional safety and connection, and audacious hospitality for all – a goal we know we must continue to work hard to meet. 

I fully appreciate that you make choices every day regarding how you allocate your time and resources, and — especially in this age of increasing anti-Semitism and ongoing challenges that so many synagogues face today  —  I hope you continue to see KI as not just another charity but as your Reform Jewish home. I call on all of us to make decisions that are values-driven, relational, and not just transactional. 

Because I believe that if this is the case, KI will continue to thrive.

We are ALL creating tomorrow together, and together we’ll make 5783 another great year at KI.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for your ongoing support of KI.

Shalom Aleichem – Peace be upon you — with Open Doors, Open Hearts, G’mar Chati-MAH Tovah.

Andrew Altman, KI President