ON SIMHAT TORAH, WE HONORED SUZANNE AND NORMAN STONE FOR THEIR STELLAR VOLUNTEER EFFORTS. WE ASKED THEM TO SPEAK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF VOLUNTEERING TO THEM. HERE IS WHAT THEY SAID:
Norman and I are very honored to receive this special recognition.
Since joining Temple Beth El six years ago, Norman and I have made TBE our home spiritually, educationally and socially.
We have tried in many ways to return some of what we have received from TBE, both together and individually.
TBE is our place to remember and do T’ shuvah, T‘ fillah and Tz’dakah, the words that we repeated so many time on Yom Kippur.
“Thank you for allowing me to do a Mitzvah”
Many years ago, a fellow congregant did a favor for me and although I no longer remember the favor, I have not and will never forget the response “Thank you for allowing me to do a “mitzvah”.
For me volunteering gives me the opportunity to do mitzvoth.
I started volunteering when I was in High School. At that time I volunteered at the Industrial Home for the Blind. I either read to those in need or did whatever was needed in the office. The day before Rosh Ha Shana, they called to ask for my help. I debated but my mother said go and so I did.
During college, I worked in a lab at Sloan Kettering Hospital and then two nights a week stayed to volunteer visiting and helping patients. Those were the days when you weren’t afraid to ride the subway by yourself late at night.
During my years at Yale, I volunteered in pediatrics, playing and reading to the children.
During the years that my daughters attended Ezra Academy, I was on the Board and a member of many committees. At that time, Ezra was a very small school and the need was very great.
At Purim, my daughters and I would bake and bring Shalach Monas to the Jewish Home and Tower One.
When I thought of retirement I knew that much of my time would be spent volunteering.
Some of those activities are at TBE and others with the greater Stamford community.
I am Torah Fund VP and on the Sisterhood Board. This past summer I had the joy of being on the Mitzvah Garden Committee. On Tuesdays I would come to the garden to weed and pick vegetables and herbs and bring them to Person to Person. I had never been a gardener but I volunteered to help plant a garden for Kids In Crisis and I was
Last year, Norman and I chaired the Person to Person TBE High Holiday Food Drive and other years we helped unpack the bags and stock the shelves.
Norman and I together with Ellie Mirne and Barbara Brafman serve lunch at Covenant House the third Monday of every month.
My first year of retirement I trained to be a hospital Chaplain. I now volunteer at Stamford Hospital. Although I visit all patients regardless of religion or race, I always visit any member of TBE that is a patient as both a chaplain and congregant.
A few months ago, I responded to an e-mail from the Interfaith Council asking for volunteers for Neighbor Link. One day a week I help neighborhood immigrants learn to speak English. It is one of the most rewarding experiences. It leaves me on an emotional high.
Most recently I trained for a new program at Stamford hospital, NODA - No One Dies Alone. This week I was called for my first vigil.
I am so very thankful for all the opportunities I have to do Mitzvoth.
The Tanach, Bible, contains 613 commandments or as we usually say mitzvot. However, I don’t think of these mitzvot as commandments but rather as privileges.
These privileges reinforces how fortunate I am to be able to help those who are less fortunate.
We translate the word tz’dakah as charity. However, it is more than that--it is really justice, justice for those who in many cases face adversity through no fault of there own. Voluntarism is a real way to make a difference and turn some of the great principles of Judaism into actions not just words on a page.
The lessons I learned at Temple Beth El have helped me realize how important it is to help others, not as an obligation, but as part of a community where helping those in need can ease their suffering and help make this world a better place.
As a member of another congregation I was an active participant on the Soup Kitchen committee. Once a week we prepared food and served the needy in Norwalk. Here at Beth El I continued volunteering to “feed the hungry” by serving Christmas Eve dinner at Pacific House together with other congregants. Wanting to do more, Jared Finklestein and I organized a committee to serve lunch at New Covenant House. Ellie Mirne, Barbara Brafman, Suzanne and I now serve lunch to between 150 and 200 hungry people.
Suzanne and I chaired the High Holiday Food Drive for Person-to-Person last year and two weeks ago, together with other volunteers we helped unpack the hundreds of bags of food and stock the shelves. This activity is one of the many that makes me proud to be a part of the TBE community.
Fundraising is a critical activity for the survival and growth of our synagogue. Having had previous experience calling bingo I now volunteer at our recently started bingo and and look forward to its success for TBE.
I am now serving my second term on the Board of Trustees. Both Steve and Eileen know that whenever they ask me to help that I never say no and that they can always count on me regardless of how easy or difficult the task.
I am so very thankful for all these activities that I am able to do and hope to find others.