Why I Volunteer at KH
Our holiday celebrations, special events and even day-to-day operations reflect the work of countless volunteers.
This is a series of short statements in which our volunteers share their feelings, tell why they give to KH, and what they get back.
Thoughts from the President
One Friday night, arriving at services about 45 minutes early, I noticed Susan Dudovitz quietly filling the wine cups she would later distribute for Kiddush.
As I watched Susan, I recognized that she wasn’t just preparing the wine for Shabbat, she was preparing herself for Shabbat. I then went to the cabinet where we keep our written material. As I started putting it out (just as I’ve done many times over the years), it struck me that by performing this act, I too was preparing myself for Shabbat. Susan had gotten me into the mindset.
I could have grumbled to myself, “Who needs this? Why doesn’t somebody else do it?” Instead, I looked upon the act as preparing myself for Shabbat. It’s all about mindset. (And isn’t everything?!)
Since that Friday evening, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I and other members of KH volunteer for the synagogue. I’ve decided to ask our members to share their own reasons for volunteering and I think we’re going to get some thoughtful, personal, and meaningful replies.
If you’d like to talk about volunteering, please give me a call.
I’ve always been a quiet person who stayed behind the scenes. So, even though we’ve been members of this congregation for three years, I’ve remained “under the radar.”
Then, I saw an opportunity to do something for the KH community. The job would make use of my expertise in organization and management. In addition, it would call upon my experience at holding Passover Seders in my own home – a role I’d always enjoyed. I found myself asking (rather than waiting to be asked) to assume the challenge of chairing the KH Community Seder.
One of my most important goals was to make the community event warm and personal. I wanted it to be a “Seder at Home.” With the able assistance of a few KH members willing to bring fresh ideas to the undertaking, I forged a new path. Although we worked independently and responsibly, we kept our shared goal in mind. In addition, many others answered the call for handling smaller jobs.
I’ve heard from numerous guests that this year’s Seder was especially beautiful and personal. This gives me so much pleasure! Most of all, I greatly enjoyed sharing the Seder with everyone who was there.
Hillel taught: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? Vital Jewish community resides in the balance between these two poles.
For myself, I want a progressive Jewish community that offers me opportunities to learn, pray, and exchange ideas with like minded people. For others, I invest my time and skills in helping to make this community happen.
Volunteering gives me an opportunity to do meaningful work in my post-retirement years and the satisfaction of knowing that others are benefiting from my efforts. Preparing for and leading short story discussions is both challenging and a source of joy. My life is richer because I have these opportunities. I feel grateful to be part of this congregation.
Marden David Paru
Ten years ago, I joined a small group of individuals who were determined to create a spiritual community that was different from most. Volunteers were needed to carry on the roles that were otherwise professionalized in larger synagogues. I grew up as a “shul mouse” and have experienced every facet of congregational life. Drawing on my synagogue skills, I have been active from Day I in most facets of KH and was fortunate to contribute my time to the KH family. I have been a board member, chairman of the Religious Practices Committee, handle door registrations for holidays, occasionally lead services, read Torah, teach, and serve as a religious advisor and co-editor of the Newsletter. As a KH volunteer, I receive the greatest satisfaction from making new friends, many of whom I consider surrogate family. What a great perquisite!
I volunteer at Kol HaNeshama to express my love and appreciation for our wonderful congregation. At the same time, I volunteer to benefit myself.
I have found that setting up for Friday night services provides me a perfect way to respect the Sabbath. Chanting from the Torah offers a supreme blessing in my life. Working on the Hesed Committee is very rewarding, as it allows me to show kindness to others. Being on the Board keeps my life exciting. To sum up, it feels good in many ways to help support KH by volunteering. I urge everyone to try it.
KH offers a personal touch to many aspects of living a Jewish life, with ways to volunteer for the synagogue no exception. Consider my experience: For more than a year, I tried to take responsibility for Kol HaNeshama’s public relations. When I became overwhelmed and stepped down, Stanley Yudin created a Communications Committee and offered me a place on it.
Now I’m part of a team that includes Richard Belle and Stan. We combine our strengths to undertake a variety of projects aimed at promoting and publicizing KH. Contributing my skills to the congregation makes me feel energized and valued. I enjoy the interaction with Stan and Richard, and I’m delighted that our working relationship has developed into a friendship that also includes their wives and my husband.