What is Success?

(image courtesy of samedaypapers.com)

There is a long standing perception that Jewish institutions and many organizations value those who have more money to give than those that don’t. To be sure, the maintenance and growth of congregations, schools, organizations and Jewish life requires financial resources—good intentions don’t pay electric bills, repair roofs or pay salaries of educators or professionals. Equally true is that our Jewish tradition requires groupings to make important things happen like a minyan—these groupings ascribe no financial expectation or worth based on financial ability.

I start with this information because, as some may know and others not, I lost my dad (Allan Laye, z”l) to glioblastoma a couple weeks ago. In reminiscing and spending significant time with my immediate and extended family, we talked a lot about my dad’s life. What became abundantly clear to me is how incredibly successful he was in life. Yet, he was not wealthy. He was not famous or a captain of industry. He did not have a PhD or MD. Much to his dismay, his golf handicap never got below 20 or so. At what did he succeed? We are as close a family as any I have ever known. We take care of each other— my brothers, my mom, my nephews, my aunts, uncles and cousins alike. He had a work ethic that would rival anyone. He was fair and righteous in his dealings. He was loved by those who knew him and he loved those he knew. He had a wicked sense of humor and prankster nature that was only rivaled by his intelligence and wisdom. The combination of the two made for some very memorable life experiences in our home! Most importantly to him, my mother and he had the model of marriage that was weeks shy of 54 years that any married couple would envy. In short, he was truly successful in life with the things that actually matter.

Maybe some of these things describe you and your life?  

At our recent Federation Board meeting, our Board Chair, Mark Kreditor lamented the lack of participation as donors to our campaign by some leaders in our community at our agencies and congregations. Most are very generous with the institutions to which they are connected, and we only ask for a meaningful gift to support the broad-based Federation campaign that takes care of so much here in Dallas, in Israel and around the world. Hence, we are back to those things that are important and make us successful in life. Our greatness, it has been said, is not judged by what we have, but by what we give.That could be $18 for some and $18,000 for others. We have an ethos at our Jewish Federation that every gift and every donor matters, and we work hard to impress that upon our professional team, lay leadership and campaign solicitors.  

The message is simple. We want to engage as many successful members of our Jewish community to participate with us, to give to us, to show up for important occasions and events, to lean in on our Jewish community because you, as a member of our Jewish community, are important. You matter. And to some degree, you are successful.

If you’re inspired to, donate here before the impulse passes!

As a point of personal privilege, I hope that my father’s memory is a blessing for me and my family.  

Shabbat Shalom,

PS - Want to see what else I've been saying? Check out my past articles.