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Rosh Hashanah 5781/2020 – Belonging vs. Being A Part

Thu, 9/17/20 - 6:11pm


Dale Donchin

By Congregation President Dale Donchin

There’s a huge difference between belonging to an organization and being a part of one.

I belong to many organizations, or should I say, they think I do. Having made one charitable donation to them many years ago, I now belong perpetually on their mail list.  But since they seem to have used my money not for my intended purpose, but instead to harass me, as much as they think I belong, I really don’t. 

However, I am part of communities where I’m an essential member, a part of the whole.  Belonging is like something that attaches to an item like a sales tag, is associated with, but doesn’t change it, and can be easily removed. In contrast, being a part of something creates a necessary piece that leaves a gap when it’s missing, like a recipe ingredient.

I can be a citizen, but not be a part of a country if I don’t vote. I can belong to a fitness club even if I never show up.  I belong to AARP and may occasionally read its newsletters.  But, I’m a part of my neighborhood because I support my neighbors when needed.

I will no longer belong if I resign my gym membership, but no one will miss me because I never made any impact.  Whereas if I’m a part of a sports team, and don’t show up for a game, my team will not play as well.

See the difference?  Belonging is being a member in name only.  Being a part of something means giving and receiving.

Let’s get more precise.  I was raised Jewish and very much agree with the values Judaism espouses.  So do I belong to the Jewish race or am I a part of it?  The answer relies on my involvement.  I belong if I’m a Jew just because I was born a Jew many years ago (I already admitted to my role with AARP).  I’m part of the Jewish race if I practice, to whatever extent, what Judaism teaches, support Jewish causes, celebrate life, perform good deeds, treat others with respect, and try to correct injustice and lessen suffering.  If I don’t help Jewish organizations, I don’t propagate Jewish ethics.

Belonging vs. being a part of something.  They are different.  This is especially true with synagogues.  You can pay your dues and never show up - that’s belonging.  On the other hand, you can be a part of a temple’s fabric: a piece that holds it together; helps build community; supports Jewish ethics; enriches social interactions; educates adults and youth; brings joy to life; helps one another; rewards service; and makes a noticeable impact on your life and the lives of others.

I want you to be a part of, not just belong to, Congregation B’nai Torah.  It doesn’t matter what you do or how much you contribute, any form of participation is better than nothing.  CBT needs you to be a part of our community.  The best part is that as a part of our community, you will find that you get back more than you give. 

You already belong to Congregation B’nai Torah.  Now be a part of it.

Shana Tovah!  Wishing you a very healthy and productive year.

Wed, March 22 2023 29 Adar 5783