Stephanie KarakantasBoard President Stephanie Karakantas shared these words with our community during the High Holidays. We hope they continue to resonate.

Dear TEMV Community:

There is a momentum, spirit quietly infusing into our community—I like to call it the spirit of generosity, that permeates many of the things we do, what we say and how we treat each other.

It can be …

  • extending a smile to a newcomer;
  • making a phone call to someone who is sick;
  • donating money anonymously in order to enjoy our guest cellist this Kol Nidre Cameron Sawzin;
  • helping a member navigate through the loss of a loved one;
  • chatting with a friend after services;
  • making lunches for the homeless;
  • suggesting an idea for a meditation group, community program and seeing it through;
  • taking the compost home with you;
  • holding someone’s hand.

Isn’t that what we as a temple family—a community reaching out to each other and to strangers—with our time, space, money, resources?

We are all the richer for these gifts.

Turning this to a more personal note—I tend to think of myself as a fairly generous person. Overall, I can be. But I wonder, am I truly as generous as I could be? Do I give willingly and compassionately as I give time to others? To my self?

Like many of you—there are a multitude of commitments in my life—a more than full time job; my aging parents with my only sibling living across the country; a large circle of friends; volunteer responsibilities and taking space to recharge.

This year more than any other, I have heard myself say over and over again “I’m just too busy”—to come to services; reach out to a friend; make that phone call, visit my parents, have a date night with my partner.

When I’m in that “too busy” mode it make me feel disconnected, annoyed and quite small. It’s a lousy feeling because that’s not the person I want to be.

So to avoid this becoming a personal mantra for 5777—I need to do more soul searching and manage how I spend my time in a way that honors not only myself, but the causes and people most important in my life.

Because I know this—when I give my time freely with love and gratitude for all that I have been given—the more generous I become—my capacity for giving is even greater. It revitalizes me, nurtures me and makes me closer to the good soul I hope to be.

I was gently reminded of this exact sentiment when I joined the board of trustees 2 years ago. Our then president Lisa Rubin shared with me “Stephanie, if you think small, you’re gonna be small, but if you think big and open your heart, then…”

It is the same with our relationship with each other in this community. To further cultivate that open heart—only you can decide what you can give—and how you can give just that bit more. Is it more time you can give in response to a request for help? Is it more money to help the temple grow? Is it resources you have to offer? Maybe it’s all of these things… I can’t say. Whatever it may be, where ever you are in your heart in giving to Temple Emanuel, I ask you to consider joining me in reflecting how you can give more deeply—so that together our spirit of generosity carries our community—each soul that gathers here—into the new year with abundance.

Shalom and many blessings,

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