A Public Thank You for a Private Gift

thank-youBy Rabbi Elliot Goldberg

This summer, I began my tenure a Head of School at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. A few weeks in, I received an envelope from CJP, Boston’s Federation, containing a letter accompanied by a check for a significant donation to the school.

The letter explained that the check was a distribution from an endowment fund that had been set up to benefit the school. Wanting to reach out to the donor, introduce myself and thank him/her for his/her generosity I inquired about the gift.

What I learned surprised me. There was no one to thank. The gentleman who had set up the fund was deceased and had no remaining family. A close friend had been the recipient of acknowledgements and information about the fund for a number of years; he too has passed. When the fund was created, as far as we know, the donor did not have a long standing relationship with organized Jewish community. His connection to Schechter and his commitment to Jewish education are a mystery.

As we begin the month of Elul, and hear the blast of the shofar each morning, we are called to think about the impact of our actions, for better or worse. As Yom Kippur draws nearer, we confront our personal deficits and commit to do better in the year ahead. And we ask ourselves the ultimate question, what will be our legacy?

Through our actions and our deeds we all leave a mark on the world and upon others. In some way, shape or form, we hope to have touched the souls of family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, to have been a source of support to the needy, comfort to the bereaved, and inspiration to someone who will pursue that which was important to us.

As I begin to engage in this year’s cycle of self-reflection and t’shuvah, I am inspired by the decision of a man that I will never know to invest in the Jewish future and to ensure that each year he would touch the lives of young Jewish children and play a part in developing their minds and nurturing their souls. I would like nothing more than to thank him face to face.

Thank you [Name]. May your generosity be an inspiration. May your legacy be a blessing.

Rabbi Elliot Goldberg is Head of School, Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Mass.