Why I Volunteer at Rodeph Shalom

Andrea Kamer’s remarks upon receiving the Hineni Award in May 2013

As some of you know, I was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is a city of about 150,000 people with a Jewish community of 100 families. When I lived there, every Jew in Springfield belonged to the synagogue, because otherwise we could not support a Rabbi. And every Jew belonged to the synagogue, whether they were Reform or Conservative.  As you might imagine, that led to some interesting arrangements. For example, the Rabbi performed a classical reform service in the main sanctuary on Friday night. And then, on Saturday morning, he performed a more traditional service in the smaller chapel.
I have been told that my grandfather was instrumental in bringing these two groups together in order to build the actual synagogue building. Later, he was president of the congregation. My grandmother was president of sisterhood. I remember my father (who is here tonight) being president of the synagogue and my mother being president of the sisterhood. We went to Friday night services almost every week and we all became confirmed. We were all involved in the NFTY Youth Group.  I have also been told that in the 1800’s, my great grandfather helped found the synagogue in Joplin, Missouri, which is about 60 miles from Springfield. More recently, my brother was vice president of his synagogue in Chicago.
So, why have I shared all this family information with you? Our family has always been involved in synagogue life. We have been taught that it is our responsibility to the community and to the Jewish people. My father has been a role model for me in this regard and I want to thank him publicly. Yes, I serve the synagogue because it is my family’s tradition and my responsibility to do so, but I also do it because I enjoy it.  I find great personal satisfaction in using my professional skills and experience for the benefit of Rodeph Shalom….whether it be in employment law, human resources or governance. And so, I humbly accept this Hineni Award………for work that I should be doing anyway, as well as work that I very much enjoy. Thank you again. -Andrea  R. Kramer