Treasurer’s Island December, 2012

000_0006There are many kinds of islands – imposing volcanoes thrusting  from the sea with lava still oozing from their flanks, steep eroded ridges covered with dense jungle, wind- and wave-lashed sand patches, tropical atolls with lagoons whose limpid waters are disturbed only by the playful splashing of nubile Polynesian* maidens….Ooops, sorry,  got carried away by the imagery there.

Anyway, this week we have many important and diverse but compact bits of information for you, like a string of interesting  little patches of land in the great sea of Ho-Hum.

1.  December:  It is almost the last month of the year (or it is already, depending on when you’re reading this), and you know what that means – only 5 (or fewer) more weeks in which to drastically reduce next year’s tax payment by giving away massive amounts of money to good causes, of which WE are one of the best (with all due modesty).  It’s a month full of distractions, so don’t procrastinate!

2.  Semiannual statements:  We are inching (back) toward a system of quarterly statements for members or those who have pledged donations.  Step 1 is covering the first 6 months of our fiscal year (through October) and letting people know what they have pledged this year or paid last year, and what this year’s payments and contributions have been so far.  The end of our fiscal year (April 30) is rather unmemorable, and we wouldn’t want it to sneak up on you unnoticed.  Also, this is a good opportunity to check to see whether our records agree with yours.

Reassurance #1: If you don’t get a statement, it doesn’t mean we don’t love you, it just means we don’t have a pledge from you and you’re not listed as a member.

Reassurance #2:  This does not replace or affect the annual tax summary of dues and donations which EVERYBODY gets in January (unless you didn’t give any money or in-kind donations at all, in which case you still exist, but you’re a little out of focus).

3. Care and feeding of the database: Sometime in early 2013 we will conduct our annual survey to try to track down changed addresses, or e-mails, or preferences about what publications you receive and how.  If you already know you have changes to make, get in touch now and avoid the rush.

4. Oh, by the way – At the FY midpoint LJCC net income for the FY was (positive!) $17,767   And, the restricted fund total was essentially unchanged, in spite of the fact that we are using the funds as a more dynamic part of money management.  And, we are on budget or better based on the system of allocations we set up.  So, the fiscal news is generally good.  But (here comes the Grinch) we are doing more and therefore spending more, we now have a rabbi to (partly) support, and the last 3 months of the FY are typically the doldrums in terms of income.  Go back and read December again.

*OK, I confess – most Polynesians (including the nubile maidens) live on high islands rather than atolls.  But hey, you wouldn’t want me to exercise my poetic license on the bookkeeping, would you?

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Herb Friedson Honored

On Friday, November 16, after more than 40 years of leading services at LJCC, Herb Friedson led his last Shabbat service. Many friends came out to honor Herb for a memorable night which included a poem read by Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam- Goldberg, and memories shared by Martha Taylor, Herb’s wife. Herb, who is also the director of the LJCC/JCW Gift Shop and the creator of the beautiful “Burning Bush” enamel art that adorns the front of the Ark in the sanctuary, as well as the “Tree of Life” in the Social Hall, says he will still consider stepping up to the bima in emergencies.

The poem that Caryn wrote for Herb is included below.

Herb

The first star to rise in the east guides us,

gathering us in the light made

by one point in the darkness

 

Herb, you are this star, silvering over

the horizon each turn of the wheel,

lifting up beauty in its most vibrant jewel tones,

letting us know the beating heart

beneath the setbacks and dangers,

old garments of damage or wrong turns.

In kindness, in constancy, in remembering all

the details of children’s lives and elders’ journeys,

you are an artist of conversation and community.

In enamels and fiber, design and arrangement,

you shine us toward the faithfulness

of walking the way of forgiveness and welcoming

in each rising of dawn, each falling of dusk.

 

Thank you for the song and singing

in the vast and changing sky of this place.

Thank you for the light, voice and hue

as the seasons unfold through us.
Be among us always, a friend to the heart

of the light, our friend, our light.

 

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, with love

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Calling All Recipes

The Jewish Community Women are sponsoring a 2nd edition of the delightful cookbook The Joy of Jewish Cooking, compiled and first published by The Jewish Community Women in 1969.

Our objective is to provide inspiration, through the newly collected recipes, to persons within and beyond the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation. The 2nd edition of the cookbook will both honor the memory of the original editors and contributors, whose labor of love brought the first edition to fruition, and help us raise funds for the social, educational, and charitable activities of JCW.

We are appealing to the many outstanding cooks and bakers among our congregation, asking you to submit one or more of your favorite recipes that you consider to be in some way reflective of Jewish cooking. All together we envision a collection representing a variety of foods – in categories such as hors d’oeuvres and appetizers; soups and sauces; salads; main dishes (meat, vegetable, fish); main dish pastries; vegetables and pickling; dairy, eggs, and cheese; bread and rolls; desserts and party sweets; and even beverages.

While this will not be a kosher cookbook, please do not send recipes that include tref foods such as pork or shellfish. We will make every effort to include all recipes we receive, but will be selective if categories get too large. All the recipes however, will be available on line at the LJCC website.

One of our goals is to convey to readers, through our presentation of the recipes, some under- standing of Jewish religious beliefs and traditions, as well as the history of the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation. To that end, please accompany your recipes with two or three sentences that give insight as to why a particular recipe has special meaning for you and your family. For instance, do you traditionally serve this dish on a particular Jewish holiday? Is it a recipe handed down from a dear relative or friend? Is it something you typically prepare for someone who is ill or in need of comfort? This information will enable us “add flavor” to the collection.

Please email your submissions to Neil Salkind who is helping with the process of collecting and preparing them for publication. If possible, please send them as a Word document. His email address is njs@sunflower.com. If you have questions, contact Jill Kleinberg (Email: jkleinberg@ku.edu; Tel. 749-2120).

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Treaurer’s Island: November, 2012

Well, there are many shiny baubles in the chest this month, and a few tarnished ones as well. Let’s try one of each.  One of the listings mentioned in the “Office” is membership, dues and donations. There is an effort to get out a mid-(fiscal)-year statement to all members, pledgers, etc., to let them know where they are. Not only have people actually requested that, but it will also be good practice for the year end tax summary letter in January. The intention is to get them out before the next newsletter, so don’t feel surprised if we succeed. Hmm, that wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to come out, but you probably know what I was trying to say.

Another, and more well- worn, treasure in our trove is the grocery certificate pro- gram (Wait! Don’t Go! This is new stuff, I promise!). We have just about shifted all of the LJCC supermarket purchases over to certificates, figuring that we might as well make money on our own purchases as well as those of others. How long did it take us to figure that out? Don’t ask. LINK, Blintz Brunch, Religious School are in the program. The next opportunity is to sweep up those of you who fairly often make purchases for reimbursement. If you do it a lot, we can assign a card; if it’s occasional thing, stop by the office and pick up a loaner.

On this same basic subject, we’ve had conversations before, you and I. I tell you how neat and convenient and beneficial to LJCC using certificates is, and you give me some lame excuse about why you can’t possibly take one teeny tiny step outside of your habit trail. So. herewith are some sensitive compromise suggestions.

1. The season of revelry is soon upon us, and if you’re going to have the family over for Turkey Day, or throw a New Year’s Eve party, you can count on leaving several hundred $ behind at the grocery store (or gas up both cars and get much the same effect). Try certificates for these one-time big-ticket events. Once you gain experience with the special case, you might not find it as fearsome as you thought.

2. And in order to further de-fearsome-ize it, we have addressed one of the big barri- ers — “I can’t remember how much is on the card.” From now on, the office and all certificate sellers will have on hand small address labels that you can stick to the back of your card (avoid the magnetic strip, please). Since every cash register has a little writing table and a pen and a screen that displays your balance for all to read and a clerk who will give you a separate cash register printout with the same information, well, there you are. No more effort than signing your credit card chit, and you have a running record of what it’s worth. Queue up neatly when you rush to get your certificates, please.

~ Bob Buddemeier

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Being a Jewish Values Voter

It’s election time again, and as we consider who to cast our ballots for, one important element to take into consideration is what our Jewish values have to tell us.

This sometimes brings up the question of whether it’s appropriate to bring “religious” considerations into the public square in this way. To me this really isn’t much of a question. My environmental activism, for instance, is largely based on my understanding of what Jewish texts and traditions have to say on the subject, and the idea of separating those spiritual values from my work in this area would be like asking me to go outside without my heart. Just as it would have been for some of the faith-based activists I so admire, such as A.J. Heschel, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi.

What is inappropriate, and where there is a church/state separation issue, is when someone asks for their religious practices to be legally enforced upon someone else. (If you see me the line!) One could argue separation is violated when on says “no person of faith could support such and such a position on such and such an issue,” but actually, that’s just foolishness. God is not partisan; people can come to different conclusions from the same texts, and that’s as it should be.

Having said that, what Jewish values can or should we apply when we go to vote in the upcoming election?

One value that springs to mind is the admonition, repeated over and over in the Torah, to care for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. The questions to ask here would be: Do the policies being proposed by the candidates make it more or less likely that the less-fortunate among us will be cared for, will have access to food, to housing, to medical attention, to educational and economic opportunity – and not five years down the line, but today?

Which candidate’s policies are more likely to allow an opportunity for people to earn a decent living with dignity? On Maimonides’ ladder of tzedakah, the highest form of “charity” is giving someone a job.

What policies are more likely to balance the call to promote peace in the world with the responsibility to protect our citizens? And whose policies will better help Israel make that same balance? For as the Torah tells us, “Seek peace, and pursue it.”

Which policies are more likely to protect our environment, to address issues such as biodiversity, availability of resources, and climate disruption? As the Midrash tells us, “Be careful that you don’t spoil or destroy my world — because if you spoil it, there will be nobody after you to fix it.”

An openness to consider- ing what Torah and tradition have to teach us can’t help but have an impact on the way we see the world and the issues and choices before us.

One more thing: I talk a lot about brachot, about blessings that sanctify our daily acts. At RRC (my rabbinical school) they developed a brachah that is appropriate for acts under- taken in the public interest:

Blessed are you Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has made us holy with your mitzvot and instructed us to occupy ourselves with the needs of the community (la’asok b’tzorkhay tzibur). I encourage you to make your voting a sacred act by saying this bracha in the voting booth.

~ Rabbi Moti Rieber

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Beautiful Voices

Our president is just a bit of a Jayhawk fan

This summer I attended a Shiray Shabbat service at our congregation. I am a traditionalist; I want to hear services that pretty closely resemble the ones I remember from the dawn of the LJCC. I didn’t want to hear a musical ensemble. But I was surprised; I was delighted; I was moved. Four women and two men led the service, sang, and played various instruments. The music and the singing at the Shiray Shabbat inspired me, not just that evening but long afterwards. And I reflected on how important women’s voices are to our community.

Women were largely excluded from conducting Jewish services until the 19th Century, and even today, in more conservative Jewish congregations, women are excluded from the bimah. It was perhaps in the mid-1970’s when the Lawrence Jewish Community began to welcome women as leaders of our services, well ahead of many other congregations in the area. It is difficult now to imagine our congregation without its female voices; voices that don’t just join in with the men’s, but elevate and amplify the male vocal expression.

It was a woman who taught me my first Hebrew prayers. Our cantorial soloist is a woman. And many of our readers and leaders are women. On Rosh Hashanah, when I was honored with an aliyah, I was struck by this irony: traditionally, only men might read from the Torah. If it had been left to me to read a Torah portion, I would have stumbled through the text slowly and badly. But I was fortunate that a woman was present to read my portion for me, chanting the words in a beautiful melody.

We have many voices in our community, from bass to soprano and possibly beyond. The lovely feminine voices join with the deeper men’s voices and create a chorus that lifts our prayers and our visions heavenward. And an occasional toddler’s squeal provides the exclamation point.

Roman statesman Cato the Elder (not to be con- fused with his obnoxious nephew Cato the Young Punk) concluded every oration with the exhortation Carthago delenda est. Because it is a matter of considerable importance to us, I am going to begin concluding my presidential columns with a similar exhortation: Bob reponendus est. We must find a successor to Bob.

Bob Buddemeier has done an outstanding job as our treasurer and go-to volunteer for the past year. Part of his outstanding job has been to organize the job of treasurer so that it is now much more manageable. We have contracted with an accountant who is helping with maintaining the books, and our office manager can now carry out some of the more routine financial duties. We have updated forms and letters and reorganized the databases and files for easier use.

It is reported that the good times must eventually end. Because of his great work, we are forced to consider giving Bob good-time credit toward his release. But when he leaves office, it will be imperative that we have a treasurer to replace him. The choices are: (1) operate without a treasurer and in violation of corporate and by-law requirements; (2) find a replacement at the last minute who will be plunged into an unfamiliar job; or (3) enlist an early volunteer who can work with Bob for a number of months, learn the job, and feel comfortable with the responsibilities when Bob finally re- tires. (1) is not an option. (2) is a bad option. (3) is a wonderful and quite doable option. I favor (3). Thanks to Bob, serving as treasurer should be a much more manageable undertaking. It does not require accounting expertise. It does not require many backbreaking hours each week. It does not require expertise in Latin.

I will continue to raise this issue until we have a successor in place or until we fold up as an organization because no one steps forward to take on this task.

~ Jonathan Paretsky

Listen to a recording of Shiray Shabbat during Hanukkah, 2011.

(And special thanks to one of our beautiful voices, Rachel Cunning, for her assistance with this column.)

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Treasurer’s Island: October, 2012

We are on the brink of a new year, individually, as a community, and as an
organization. The question is what happens after we step over that brink. LJCC is on an upward trajectory, with a rabbi (!), a revitalized program committee, and some essential repairs and upgrades under way. But… sustaining that trajectory will take additional treasure.

Let me tell you about the treasure on this island. It is not, unfortunately, a giant chest brimming with gold and jewels that you can get to by digging a big hole and tossing out the skeletons. It’s spread all over, buried a little bit at a time in wallets and sacks and boxes that sometimes cost almost as much to dig up as the contents are worth. We need still more buried wallets, and still more diggers to find them.

The High Holy Days are not only a time for joy and reflection; they are also traditionally a time of giving. Giving can take many forms – you can be a wallet, for example, or if that’s not possible you can be a digger, giving your time and energy. If you can be both, that’s great; if neither is possible, then be an enthusiastic participant and cheer on the others.

May the New Year be happy for you –- and for us.
— Bob Buddemeier

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