When it comes to achievements, UHC proves that small is beautiful

By Debra Israel

Debra Israel is a member of the United Hebrew Congregation board.

The past month of April, and now the month of May, present a microcosm of our congregation’s character.

In fact, instead of lamenting the small size of our congregation, after seeing all that we accomplish, we might instead start proclaiming that small is indeed beautiful.

In a small congregation, we all can make a difference.

From my professional view as an economist, we talk about the concept of “free-riding”, when people do not contribute their share of the work, even while enjoying the community’s benefits, because they know that someone else will chip in (particularly with volunteer time or monetary contributions).

This is easier to do in a large organization, because your individual participation may or may not seem to matter.

There are times when I am tired and would rather not leave my house, but then remember I should make the effort to participate because in a small congregation, we all can make a difference.

In fact, our congregation might be said to experience its own mini-diaspora within the diaspora.

My extended family does not live in Terre Haute or anywhere nearby, ranging from New York to Washington State to Florida to South Dakota to Michigan and as far as Bolivia!

Many of our congregants face similar situations, either because they moved here from elsewhere, their children have moved away, or both.

In fact, our congregation might be said to experience its own mini-diaspora within the diaspora. But this makes our congregation even more important as a supportive community.

Congregation experiences phases of life and death

Within our congregation this spring, we have experienced the variety of celebrations and commemorations of the different phases of life and death.

Patty’s grandson had his baby-naming ceremony; Izaak celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and we remembered Estelle Corrigan’s life at her memorial service.

We also finished our cycle with this year’s student rabbi, Kylynn, and thank her for enriching our experiences this year while wishing her well in her new endeavors.

April also saw the start of the renovation of our Temple from the outside. What better way to greet spring?

April also saw the start of the renovation of our Temple from the outside. What better way to greet spring?

Thanks as well to Patty and the active Temple Sisterhood. At Sisterhood’s April meeting, representatives from the Borrowed Hearts Foundation came to speak and to accept donations for foster children in need.

As if this wasn’t enough for one month, thanks to organization by board member Terry Fear, we also collaborated with CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center for a well-attended Yom HaShoah memorial service, with Holocaust survivor Agnes Schwartz delivering a moving talk on her family’s experience in Hungary.

Congratulations to our college graduates

More events follow during the month of May. Congratulations to Alexa Mayer and Kelsey Golden on their upcoming graduation from Indiana State University, and to Adam Finer for his recent graduation from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

It is always a pleasure to have college student involvement with the congregation and the religious school at various times during their stay in Terre Haute.

Finally, the congregation’s annual meeting is coming up on May 20, with a speaker on Israel. I hope to see many of you there!

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