There are some ins and outs of synagogue life that are a bit unwritten. In an earlier generation of synagogue members there were traditions of giving. But increasingly in congregations people seem to not know what to do.
So… in the spirit of bringing to light that which is hidden let’s explore ways you might support your synagogue community beyond dues.
First and foremost volunteer. Join a committee or group within the congregation. Most synagogue communities rely on volunteer help and advice to thrive. When you absent yourself from the governance life of the congregation, thinking others will shape it, direct it, and keep it strong it is a recipe for the synagogue to lack direction. Offer your help. Agree to chair an event. Work on the website. Take pictures at a program. Help stuff envelopes once a week. Usher at services and welcome someone new!
Other ways to support the temple is to pick one fund at your congregation and adopt it. Most congregations have multiple funds to support programs and building and scholarships. This is in addition to the general operating fund. Make quarterly donations to specific funds: the endowment fund, the campership fund, the music fund, the clergy discretionary funds. This helps support the synagogue and take the burdens off the general operating funds to pay for the programming and allows the congregation to maintain good financial health!
If your congregation has yarzeit plaques, buy plaques in memory of your loved ones. Not only will kaddish be said for your friends and family and you will create a lasting memorial but you are giving tzedakah in their memory. These funds go to help the synagogue as well.
Sponsor a Shabbat oneg. Make it in honor of a birthday or anniversary or a friend visiting town. It is a lovely way to celebrate a wonderful occasion at temple among your spiritual community.
These are some ways you can more fully engage in creating the sacred space of your congregational community. It is more than just showing up for an occasional service or class or dropping your kids off at Religious school. The Synagogue can only be a dynamic and sacred space -if you are there making it so.