There is a problem when we define our relationships with our congregations only on “dues.”

I can’t stand the word.

It has never reflected my relationship with you — and I hope that it doesn’t truly reflect your relationship with me (or your rabbi). When “dues” is the foundation, that is why people leave… it is like the gym they don’t go to, so why pay dues if I don’t go?

Shouldn’t it be based on Covenants? Caring for one another, despite how many hours of use we provide, is our real foundation. Investing in a community that serves the Jewish community, that teaches Torah, that enriches lives, that challenges us to make a life not just a living… that helps us live in the Presence of God… these are the reasons why I support my own syangogue. And when I do so, I know I am contributing to the Jewish journeys of our preschoolers, our teens, our empty nesters and our seniors.

I want to embrace the concept of Nadiv Lev — giving with a generous heart. It isn’t always easy, but I hope that if your congregation has done right by you, if your synagogue has touched you, if you are feeling grateful about things in your life…then show that gratitude by making an act of tzedakah.

I did to Temple Beth Tikvah. I hope you will too (or to your own congregation).

I spent a lot of time in December sharing the great things going on in our camps, Federation, and local agencies but for me… the synagogue is home base. The synagogue is the greatest partner in fostering Jewish relationships.

It is funny, when I feel that I have the fewest dollars to give, I give anyway, and it somehow puts things in to perspective. Giving is a gift. And we are taught that even the recipient of tzedakah is obligated to give. Being generous can make me feel closer to whole.

I can certainly share all of the great things that I hope to accomplish and how people’s gifts can help make that happen. (Certainly, if you are interested in hearing it, let me know…I gotta lot to talk about!)  However, sharing a gift shows you care. A meaningful gift reflects your values.

In a day and age where synaogues and institutions are often criticized, wouldn’t it be nice for those of us who feel good about the efforts of our leaders, even rabbis, to express a message of gratitude and invest in the single address that insures a Jewish future (outside the home)?

I hope so.