“Just imagine what we could do with more Chai Circles of Giving!” Those were the words from Rabbi Stacy Friedman that inspired Marc Press. But he knew that he and his wife Kim could not shoulder the Chai Circle financial commitment alone. So they decided to reach out to their own circle of congregation friends to see if they could make something happen.
And they did. Marc and Kim Press recognized that many of the congregation’s programs cannot exist without additional financial support. So they did what comes naturally: they contacted about ten families with whom they shared common ground. Many of them had young kids, they all had a close relationship to Rodef Sholom, and they all participated in temple programs that made a difference in their lives. Says Kim, “We’re passionate about so many of the programs: Danny Nichols at Shabbat services, the open tent committee, the conversion mentor program, and the challah baking on Thursday afternoons. Without additional funds, these programs could not exist.” Adds Marc, “The fact that our wonderful clergy can each be engaged in unique and special programs is a direct result of having the extra funds that come from Chai Circles.”
The concept of Chai Circle giving initially grew out of a need to cover a specific budget shortfall and the financial commitment was $10,000, each year for 3 years. But Marc always thought it should be a continuous level of giving. So when the 3-year commitment was up, he approached their Chai Circle “family” again and almost every member willingly agreed to the funding again. According to Marc, “They were proud to be included.”
Notes Marc, “The goal of Chai Circles was never to increase membership but to see fellow congregants more deeply involved in meaningful activities. These additional resources directly translate into greater connections for many more families like ours.”
Marc and Kim are passionate about making this choice and leading the way for other congregation members. They are keenly aware that additional resources are necessary to keep alive the rich array of activities and programs that mean so much to so many families. Many of these are not simply an extra class or fun activity but are what make a big difference in people’s lives: The Nichum program of meals for congregants in need, Mitzvah Day that benefits dozens of Marin County agencies, and meals for the homeless through our Religious School, among many others. These would not be possible without the additional funds from the Chai Circles.
As a former Board and Chai Circle member, I am aware of the financial realities Rodef Sholom faces in doing its important work. It was an honor to interview Marc and Kim who have shown great dedication and leadership by giving their time, talent and resources. I am inspired by their generosity and I hope others will be as well.—Cindy Ostroff
If you would like to learn more about Chai Circle giving to Rodef Sholom, please contact Jane Friedman, Development Director, at 479.3441 or email@example.com.