A busy little ant traveled days and distances in search of treasures that might benefit all in the colony. One day while out foraging the ant found a big piece of straw and thought it could come in handy. Though the ant struggled under the size and weight of the load on its back it was sure that this bounty was necessary as it journeyed toward home.
Part of its travel occurred on a large expanse of cement. The smooth concrete was much easier to walk on especially with the straw weighing down its every move. The ant still did not know what purpose the piece of straw would serve until it reached a crack in the concrete that was impossible to cross.
The ant positioned the straw across the chasm and walked over it to the other side. What was once a heavy burden had become a bridge.
The ant couldn’t have continued on its journey without the benefit of that piece of straw. The sacrifice, the struggle, and heavy lifting yielded the best reward. (Bits & Pieces, Feb. 2014, Ragan Communications)
Today often those who work in synagogues and those who lead them, rabbis, cantors and most especially lay leaders often feel like that busy little ant struggling and doing the heavy lifting. Board members sacrifice time, expertise, and financial resources to uplift the Jewish community and the synagogue community. It can feel like thankless work. More often criticized than praised by fellow congregants, many board members are looking for ways to sustain Jewish community throughout North America. Some claim the future of the synagogue is bleak. I disagree. I believe the future of the Jewish community rests and relies upon strong congregations and synagogues.
The synagogue is still the central home of the Jewish people. Even those who are not affiliated recognize that their neighborhood shul, synagogue, or temple carries the traditions of our people forward even if they themselves do not partake. The synagogue must be strengthened one piece of straw at a time if necessary.
So for all who toil in sustaining synagogues, clergy, administrators, teachers, and most especially lay leaders thank you. When together we lift the piece of straw and utilize it to continue our journey–then we know we have our best reward.