Congregations throughout the world advertise their shuls as welcoming, inviting and open to anyone and everyone. Clearly, this is one of the most challenging aspects of any synagogue community, regardless of size. All of us work very hard to make sure that our communities thrive and grow - and welcoming/inviting new members is a great task that every one of us, Jewish professionals and lay leaders, must, MUST focus on.
Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia - my new home - has been very successful over the years with this. The clergy and lay leaders has always kept in mind the words from our Torah - "for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Decisions made have focused on this idea of welcoming the stranger. As I have told several prospective new members, TKE does not know any strangers...everyone is welcome!
There is, however, one group of people in our shul that often gets overlooked. And, I am sure that TKE is not the only congregation in which this happens. Our volunteers - those that work in our office, our board, etc. - are an essential part of our success. They work extra hard to ensure that visitors to our shul understand our ideals and are always welcomed. Without their hard work and dedication, I am sure that TKE would not be as strong and vibrant as it is today.
Next time you visit TKE, whether it is the 1,000 time or the 2nd time, please make sure to greet and thank all of our volunteers - not just the ones that wear name tags. After all, these wonderful people are the face of our congregation, and I will never be able to thank them enough. These amazing people are a perfect example of who we are and who we strive to be as a congregation!
Kol Ha Kavod!