I like to joke that we’ve been at most of the congregations in the valley. We started at Temple Emet, came here for a few years, then back to Emet when they merged to become Kol Tikvah, then Temple Beth Torah, then Temple Beth Hillel, and finally, back here. If there was one thing I learned it was: If you aren’t active in the congregation, you don’t get to know anyone. This is especially true if you don’t have children, or your children are starting in their teen years or older.
At Temple Beth Torah, I was doing everything, from Tot Shabbat to Publicity, and I burned out. At Beth Hillel, I did nothing. When we rejoined TAS, I wanted to get active again, but not at the Board level. I decided to go to what was then the Mens Club.
I attended meetings for a few years, and then started proposing and running events. I was eventually elected to office, and I just finished two years as President. Through that experience, I’ve gotten to know this great group of men that do things for the congregation. In doing so, I’ve gotten to know congregational leadership, and through both, I’ve strengthened my relationship with the congregation. We don’t always see eye to eye – especially when we are talking politics – but we can set that aside because we’ve gotten to know each other as people.
When you hear people talk about their connection to the congregation, especially at the High Holy Days, the key message is that the relationship was built over the years their kids attended school. I’m here to tell you that’s not the only way to build a relationship with a congregation. Being active is how you do it: come to a MoTAS or Sisterhood meeting. Become active on a committee. Build or join a Havurah. Not having young children is not a barrier to making friends at TAS.
Further, being active can make you a better person. I’m a cybersecurity engineer. I’m not a people person; given my choice I’ll sit back and observe, hiding at my computer screen. Being active in MoTAS has made me exercise skills I needed: selling events, caring about others, caring about the congregation, being an active part of something instead of just an observer. I still hate making cold phone calls, but I’m a better person for my involvement with MoTAS.
You can be too. If you’re not involved, become involved. If you are involved, step up and lead. If you are leading, be a mentor to an upcoming leader, and thank you.