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One New Member’s Perspective on Being Welcomed with Abundant Kindness -Part II

Part II: How I Give Back (to read Part I click HERE)

by Nancy Hagen Goldstucker

Faced with the limitations imposed by the pandemic, the Mensch Bench was the path for identifying how my talents and interests could best contribute to Emanuel and its needs.

As I mentioned previously, I had been an administrator, including bookkeeping, at a very small congregation and knew it relied on members who gave greater than the suggested dues to provide full dues relief to many of its members. I also know from research that membership in all religious organizations has been down for two or three decades. According to a Gallop study, it was “down from 70% in 1999 to 50% in 2019.” From experience, I know that building maintenance alone can crush a congregation.

I joined Emanuel with introductory anniversary dues of $140. I am convinced that Emanuel truly appreciates that amount and values any donation in any amount. And, from the number of members who attended High Holy Day services compared to the number of empty seats at Friday services, I suspected the Congregation has been struggling. I am well aware that I am beyond fortunate to be in a position to donate Emanuel’s suggested dues and, a few months into COVID when nonprofits were suffering financially, I started giving monthly to support cashflow, staff retention, empty building expenses, etc. In renewing my membership for 2020-2021, I am donating the full suggested dues.

But more important to me is that I am contributing my enthusiasm and expertise. I am giving of myself. This Fall, I was asked to join the board and, as Judy Gadiel and her family have moved to the lakeshore in Michigan, I suddenly find myself the development chair. This is my passion – friend-raising and fundraising – and had been my career for 20 years until 2008’s Great Recession.

With none of my own institutional memory, I have collaborated with staff, clergy, board members, and members on the year-end appeal. I am proud of our effort and the entire package. I hope we have made a clear and convincing case for supporting the Congregation with whatever capacity each of us has. I also hope Iris Marreck’s graphics have given us the feeling of being back together in the building.

I am writing this note partly in support of #GivingTuesday. This is the first time Emanuel has participated in this global event. Please give what you can as the Congregation continues to deplete our reserves. And please also RSVP for a meeting on Sunday, December 6 or 13 to learn about our Strategic Transformation Plan and to explain a $50,000 grant match challenge at

Late in January or early in February, we will report the results of our year end and #GivingTuesday efforts and, with much transparency, will let you know where we are in the first month of the second half of our fiscal year.

Finally, I hope many of you have experienced the same welcome and abundant kindness in a way that is meaningful to you. Part of that welcome is the opportunity to offer new programming ideas and develop and/or lead these initiatives for the Congregation. If you have a bright idea or feel you are missing something at Emanuel, please talk to the board members, Rabbi Marantz, Cantor Friedman and/or Executive Director SaraBeth Salzman.

I welcome you – long time and new members and friends – and invite you to reach out to me, if you would like to join me in our development plans and efforts.

Be well and safe,

Nancy Hagen Goldstucker

(773) 655-4185


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