Annual Appeal

Please contribution to Beth El’s Annual Appeal. It’s important.

The money Beth El receives in dues, tuition and program fees does not cover all of the synagogue’s expenses. In order to balance our budget, Beth El needs to ask us to engage in the Jewish mitzvah of tzedakah: making additional donations to support a very worthy cause. 

These additional donations provide almost 5% of Beth El’s annual budget. Every year, the congregation rises to meet this responsibility and provide these vital funds. 

In this respect, Beth El is similar to a lot of other non-profit organizations. When you buy a ticket to see a play at Berkeley Rep, your ticket price covers only about half of the cost of the production. That’s why Berkeley Rep, and almost every other non-profit organization, must also engage in fundraising.  

But unlike Berkeley Rep, at Beth El this kind of fundraising is part of the fundamental Jewish value of tzedakah and the 2,500 year-old tradition of supporting the synagogue.  

Click here to donate now!

Emily Yerlick 2018 5779 Yom Kippur Annual Appeal D'rash

Last week I received a gift—a beautiful gold charm of the Camp Kee Tov logo intended for me to wear whenever I want… which will be always. You see, Camp Kee Tov and Congregation Beth El have always been my community and you, the incredible members of it, are my family. 

Those close to me often like to joke that I use the word “family” very liberally. In fact, I have so many aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, moms and dads that most don’t know who is actually related to me and who are “chosen” family. And that’s the way I like to live. My family is not rigid in who is allowed to be a part of our inner circle as we know that each member of our community brings something unique to the table.

Because for my family, all the members in it, celebrations depend much less on the “when” and much more on the “with whom”. Since the beginning of my memory, my parents instilled in me the importance of being around those who lift you up: who bring you joy in times of celebration, comfort in times of hardship and a smile on a random day just because. For my family, the act of gathering and being together is what makes our life events special no matter how large or small the holiday.

As I enter the 30th (yes 30th!!) year of life, a year that has been full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I’ve had time to reflect on my family, which is my community. And through all the transitions over the last 30 years- from moving to Piedmont in elementary school to returning home each summer of college to work at camp, from celebrating the most wonderful simcha of marriage to most recently experiencing the some of the hardest losses I have ever known- I noticed a constant: Congregation Beth El. It’s no surprise that in this year of both professional and personal transition, I’ve have only explored staying at Congregation Beth El, staying with my kehillah kedoshah, my sacred community. 

Often at Shabbat YAFE, our Shabbat service that highlights our littlest learners in the Beth El Nursery School to our up-and-coming community leaders in 5th grade, and daily at Camp Kee Tov the sounds of Dan Nicol’s hit Kehillah Kedoshah filled the air. In the second verse Dan writes “Each one of us must start to hear. Each one of us must sing the song. Each one of us must do the work. Each one of must right the wrong. Each one of us must build the home. Each one of us must hold the hope. Each one of us, each one of us.” It is up to us to hear, sing, work, build and hope for our community. During this season of reflection, I invite you to recommit to this community- the community that has been created by members just like you for the next generation to come.

There is passage in the Talmud that outlines the requirements of a city where a talmid haham, a scholar, is allowed to live. All of the requirements—a beit din, a tzedakah fund, synagogue, bathhouse, doctor, craftsperson, butcher and teacher of children—are found here at Beth El. We make sure that the members of our community act with kavod, respect, are able to give meaningfully to charities near and far, have an outlet for their creative and spiritual expressions, are always fed and our children are taught through love and play.

Written beautifully in our mission statement is the intent to welcome all families and to involve them in creating a sacred community, a kehillah kedoshah. Congregation Beth El was not created for us, but rather we as a community have worked hard to make the warm, welcoming, diverse, liberal, creative, nurturing and safe space that is Beth El. 

So I say to you, in this time of reflection and recommitment, what do you want this community to look like? To sound like? To feel like? How are you going to add to this sacred and special place; a place we return to each week, month and year on the most holiest of occasions? In the coming week you will receive a letter with details of how to give and the wonderful matching grant opportunities for this year. I challenge you to not only read that letter, but push yourself in reaffirming your commitment to this physical space as well as it’s emotional spirit. The Beth El community is strong because of participation, and any contribution, be it time, food or funds, helps our community grow in strength and holiness.

G’mar chatimah tovah, may you be inscribed in the book of life for this year to come and may you feel inspired to continue to build our kehillah kedoshah.