The “Ark” of Fairness

July 1, 2023
By Keith Satter

My daughter Lori was in elementary school when we got into a conversation about the word “fair” and its meaning. She said, “It means everyone gets a turn.”

I thought of that story recently. It’s only summer but High Holiday preparations have been underway for some time. One very special job is assigning High Holiday Honors.

At Beth El, we assign honors as a show of kavod. And this primarily is respect for participation in any form in our synagogue community. At the same time, it is impossible to purchase or “own” a specific honor.

Opening the Ark on the holidays is an honor in and of itself. When we open the Ark, we place ourselves in the presence of our Torah scrolls, and everyone rises in respect. Still, I have heard some folks – who, by the way, do a great deal for our shul – say, “Why is it I am always opening the Ark? Can I never receive another honor?”

I totally get it. It is easy to take last year’s honors list, translate it to this year and make the job of assigning honors easier. Except that our congregation’s leaders shift from year to year. New people step up and take on important responsibilities, but that hasn’t always been reflected in a High Holiday honor.

With all this as background, I have asked the High Holiday Honors Committee to broaden their scope when planning who will receive honors. My goal is to change things up a little and get some new faces in front of the congregation.

The end result may be a different honor for you this coming year, but we will be true to the way we should define “fair.” Everyone gets a turn.

From my family to yours…An early Shanah Tova.

May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.