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Preview for June: Volunteers vital to Waukesha community
May 9th, 2012
This is a preview of the second article in a two-part portrait of the Waukesha Jewish community, which the “Jewish Community Study of Greater Milwaukee 2011” showed to be a larger than expected proportion of the Milwaukee-area Jewish community.
Rabbi Steven Adams, spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El of Waukesha, acknowledged that, as in the past, synagogue life in his community continues to rely heavily upon the work of volunteers.
“We still need a lot of lay involvement, and we invite people with different areas of expertise to lead programs,” he said. “But we’re constantly aware of the need for balance — how do we ensure that things are done professionally and still keep our corps of volunteers.”
Elly Kraines, for example, said she served as CEEW treasurer for 15 years. Her engineer husband Nate “was in charge of buildings and grounds for a very long time — they still call him today — and he also served as president of the congregation for three or four years.” she said.
She also said she thought their volunteerism was a good thing for their children to see.
“You participate, and your participation matters,” she said. “Our children saw us working at it — we didn’t take it for granted, as people do in the large congregations — and they were always delighted when they got to meet other Jews.”
Mary Schuman, chair of CEEW’s membership committee, spoke of how important it is for the community to see the synagogue as a place that invites participation.
“We know that people can be put off when they call the synagogue and only get impersonal voice mail,” she said. “But we can’t afford to have someone here all the time to answer the phone.
“So, I’ve put my home number on the synagogue voice mail, and if people are calling about membership, they can call me at home and be able to speak to a real person.”
See the rest of this story in the June issue.