I know I have shared this joke with you before:

Abe and Esther are flying to Australia for a two week vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Suddenly, over the public address system, the Captain announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news. Our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency landing. Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be able to land on the beach. However, the odds are that we may never be rescued and will have to live on the island for the rest of our lives!”

Thanks to the skill of the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the island. An hour later Abe turns to his wife and asks, “Esther, did we pay our charity pledge check to Beth Shalom Synagogue yet?” “No, sweetheart,” she responds. Abe, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks, “Esther, did we pay our Jewish Federation pledge?” “Oy, no! I’m sorry. I forgot to send the check,” she says. “One last thing, Esther. Did you remember to send a check for the Synagogue Building Fund this month,” he asks? “Oy, forgive me, Abie,” begged Esther. “I didn’t sent that one, either.”

Abe grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years. Esther pulls away and asks him, ” So, why did you kiss me?” Abe answers, “They’ll find us!”

The joke is funny but it illustrates a tone of how we feel about our Jewish community and supporting it. We tend to relegate causes that are actually important to us because we think “fundraising” is a dirty word. The truth is, our faith — every faith — is built on the idea of giving an offering. An act of tzedakah (justice, righteousness). Why shouldn’t we ask one another to give… and to give often… and to give till it hurts (just a little; that would probably mean we are giving the right amount).

I do believe that acts of tzedakah change the world. Support for the Jewish community enables us to be there for people wherever they might be. Real funding helps us accomplish our community’s dreams. With that said, I have joined the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and have been impressed with what they have been trying to accomplish – strengthening its mission as a communal address to support Jewish interests throughout Atlanta, in Israel and around the world.

Here is why I donated this year – and hope you will consider these and perhaps making your first gift or an increased gift. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is:

  • raising serious dollars to provide incentive grants and financial aid to middle-income and low-income families to enable their children to attend a Jewish overnight camp program – one of the greatest investments we can make in our youth to insure a bright Jewish future.
  • enabling young adults in Atlanta to have their own Birthright Israel experience – a Jewish community’s gift of a free trip to Israel to deepen connections with Israel and their Judaism.
  • funding the PJ Library program in metro Atlanta, providing books at no cost to Jewish children every month to encourage families’ Jewish journeys.
  • ongoing financial support to our Jewish communities most significant agencies, including Jewish Family & Career Services, The Breman Jewish Home and its expanded services, the Jewish Community Center, another other supportive services for refugees, the elderly, and the vulnerable.
  • strengthening religious pluralism in Israel, including to Reform and Conservative movement institutions and synagogues; along with building connections to communities in need in our sister cities of Yokneam and Megiddo.

Many of us give to the causes and agencies that we are most committed to, which is wonderful. I do the same. And certainly, it includes my own giving to our congregation. But there is still a power to contribute to a communal fund where key leaders are assessing the needs for a whole community. That is why I give. I hope you will to.

To make your gift, go to www.jewishatlanta.org and select the Donate Now! button. The website has lots of information for you to learn how to do your part.

Or you can send me a private email with your pledge, and I will take care of the rest! Write to me at rabbigreene@bethtikvah.com.

Thanks for starting this new year off right and considering a gift to the Community Campaign of 2014. I hope we steadily increase Temple Beth Tikvah’s representation in our Federation Campaign.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and sweet 2014.