A Shabbat Message from National Women's Philanthropy

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We invite you to read this message from National Women's Philanthropy (NWP) Board Member, Sandi Fried from Kansas City.

Hello from icy Kansas! I’m delighted to share with you my thoughts today, my first d’var Torah in decades! This week's Torah portion is about building the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, while the Israelites are wandering in the desert. It's after the Golden Calf, where the men collected gold to build the calf while Moses was on the mountain. Once again, there is a call out to the people to give precious metals, gold, silver and copper.

Women were the first to contribute their precious metals to the Tabernacle. Their support for the tabernacle strengthens the significance of the women’s earlier refusal to contribute to the Golden Calf, and indicates women can discern when a cause is worthy of their generosity (The Torah, a women's commentary- piece by Lisa Grushcow).

Every woman contributed by giving what she could and was valued for her precious donation. The collected metals were copper, silver and gold. Each metal had its unique place in the Mishkan and each was needed for the whole piece to work. Each metal, regardless of value, made the Mishkan whole. The gold was used to construct the ark that housed the Torah, but the ark needed to have a courtyard to protect itself, and that was built out of copper and silver (Aish.com, Adam Lieberman).

Our community has always valued each and every contribution in support of our institutions. National Women’s Philanthropy may be the gold, but we need every donation to create the whole.

There are several points that I find relevant for us as women leaders.

  • We all want change in this world, but we all have our jobs in that change. Some of us imagine the change, others may raise the money, some do the office work, some do the lobbying to get laws to change and some do the on the ground work. We each have our roles and what we uniquely bring to that change and without one part, the whole project could not succeed. Time, talent and treasure make a whole.
  • As women leaders, we have the opportunity to notice and value gifts of any size that someone gives, which may lead to a greater feeling of being a part of the whole and part of the community.
  • My mother decided to make my father’s dream happen after he passed away, by donating the large seed gift to build the JCC theater, which had not been built with the campus. Everywhere she went, people thanked her. She often told the story of seeing someone in the parking lot, looking up at the building. She asked what they were looking at. The person responded that she was trying to see which brick might be hers, as she had donated $50 to the theater fund. To this woman, that $50 was significant and she felt a part of the project. She felt pride just as my mother had, she too could be proud that it was because of her that the JCC had a theater.
  • We are all proud of our campaign, and proud to be Lions. Those of us in the NWP Board are proud to be Ruby Lions and above. In our caucus on the FRD mission to Kiev and Israel, it was inspirational to hear women talking about their dreams of becoming a Lion, how upset they were when they couldn’t afford it and had to put their Lion away, or how it was their most valuable piece of jewelry.

My mom once told me about a time when the Federation campaign meant you went door to door collecting from your neighbors. A campaign volunteer solicitor knocked on a door and realized immediately that she had knocked on the door of a family in need. But the door was open, the woman had answered, and so the volunteer went on with her plea. The woman in the apartment said, “Wait, we give to Federation, and we want to help.” She went to the other room and came back with a single dollar bill. “Here,” she said, “we want to help.” That dollar was so significant to this family to help feel a part of our community. This family gave what they could, to feel a part of the whole. Our copper, silver and gold donations are all important. We need to cherish each one as building blocks in our communities.

Shabbat Shalom.

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