Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Adas Emuno Ambassadors


From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

Adas Emuno Ambassadors

On September 20, 2013, Ron Dermer became the 18th Israeli Ambassador to the United States. The first Israeli Ambassador was Eliyahu Eilat, Abba Eban was the second, Yitzhak Rabin was the fourth, and Dermer's immediate predecessor was Michael Oren. The first United States Ambassador to Israel was James Grover Mc Donald, the sixth was Kenneth Keating, and the 19th and current US Ambassador is Daniel Shapiro.

Some ambassadors are political appointees, while others are career foreign service employees, that is to say, professional diplomats. Either way, their mission is to represent their nations and governments in foreign lands. The ambassador is in charge of a diplomatic mission, otherwise known as an embassy, and while these terms are often used to refer to the buildings and grounds that the diplomats occupy, they actually refer to the people themselves. The ambassadors and representatives are the embassy, they are the mission.

Of course, a mission is more than just a group of people—it is a group of people with a purpose. At the risk of sounding redundant, a mission is on a mission. And we know this also applies to religious as well as political missions, but then again, we don't have much of a history regarding Jewish missionaries. Our tradition is not one that emphasizes the need for proselytizing, nor does it encourage conversion, although we certainly do not turn away anyone who wants to join in the faith, and fate, of our people.

In particular, as Reform Jews, we tend to take the position that individuals have to make up their own minds about belief in God, religious practice, and congregational affiliation. We see it as a matter of individual conscience, and the last thing we want to do is to force our way of life on others. And that is to our credit.

But it also has a downside. It tends to make us shy away from promoting ourselves, from letting others know about all that we have to offer.

And that is why I want to ask you to think of yourselves not only as members of our shul, but as Adas Emuno Ambassadors. Go out there and represent! Let others know about our synagogue and religious school. Invite them to our services, our events and programs, and encourage them to learn more about joining our congregation.

Just like an embassy, a congregation is not about buildings and grounds, it's about people, people with a purpose. Of maintaining a tradition, educating their children, finding spiritual fulfillment, repairing and healing the world. We are on a mission, but that mission can only continue through the efforts of our members.

Promoting our shul and encouraging new members to join is not a task that we delegate to our clergy, or to our officers and trustees. It is a duty that all of our members need to take part in. Nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to bringing in new members. Nothing is more encouraging to prospective members than hearing people that they know, like, and respect express their enthusiasm for our congregation.

And that is why I invite you to do all that you can as Adas Emuno Ambassadors. If you have not thought of yourselves in this way before, I invite you now to become Adas Emuno Ambassadors. If you require something more official than that, very well then, I hereby appoint you an Adas Emuno Ambassador. If you want a swearing in ceremony, or maybe a certificate, we can probably arrange that too.

Just remember that your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to represent and promote our congregation, to help to bring new members into our community, and to act on our collective behalf as Adas Emuno Ambassadors. Can we count on you?

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