By National Commander Alan D. Paley
We all talk about our membership, and how so may Jewish veterans do not belong to our organization. But do we ask? Do we approach friends, neighbors, co-workers or members of other groups or organizations that we belong to and ask them to join our ranks?
It appears to me that many of us do not.
We just never think about it or are intimidated about asking.
So here is an interesting story about an ask, and perhaps after you read what I have to say, you will consider asking the next time you engage with someone who may be an eligible member or potential patron of our organization.
For those who attended NEC in 2020, during the Policy Committee meeting we had a guest speaker who proposed a fund raising project involving the JWV Torah. For those of you that do not know, JWV has a Torah, and it travels to both our NEC and National Conventions. We read from it on Mondays and Thursdays, and again on Shabbat when our meetings carry over onto a weekend. A while ago, it was determined the Torah was in desperate need of repair, and if those required repairs were not completed sooner rather than later, the Torah would not be able to be used again. This is what created the need for our speaker at the Policy Committee meeting during the convention. The speaker, a Rabbi from the Miami area, told us that instead of repairing the existing Torah, we should consider a project to write a new Torah. The writing of a Torah is an exciting project, and the idea was to travel across the country and write the Torah as it stopped in each Department. They would even take the Torah down to Post level to enable our members to purchase a letter, a verse or even an entire Parsha. Synagogues across the country undertake these same projects, and very often they become successful fundraising events. However, the leadership of our organization, after hearing this proposal voted not to move forward with this idea. We would look for other alternatives. So, the idea of writing a new Torah was shelved.
A few months later, during a small leadership meeting, the Torah project was again brought up, and a lengthy discussion followed. It was decided that we would not repair the existing Torah. An alternative idea was brought up to see if we could approach some local synagogues and ask them to consider donating one of their unused Torahs to our organization. Most at that meeting were skeptical. A few more months passed and, again the topic was brought up. We had to fix the current Torah, or we could not use it anymore.
So, I asked the question. I approached my Rabbi and asked for consideration towards the donation of one of their many Torahs. This request did take my Rabbi by surprise, as no one had ever asked for a donation of a Torah. Some organizations have asked to borrow one from time to time, but they were always returned and placed back in the Ark, standing ready for the next time they would be used. My synagogue had a total of 13 Torahs.
Over the years, and especially since the pandemic, the number of members attending High Holiday and Shabbat services has declined, and our need to have these services split into separate areas of the synagogue was no longer necessary. Therefore, we no longer needed all our Torahs.
So, the Rabbi spoke with our President and the idea fascinated him. This would be a wonderful mitzvah for our synagogue to help another Jewish organization, but the President and Rabbi could not make the decision alone. It had to be brought to the full Board of Directors for consideration.
On December 14, 2021, my synagogue held its first in person Board of Directors meeting in more than 19 months and I was asked to state my case and ask the Board for that donation. I did, and the Board voted unanimously to donate one of their Torahs to the Jewish War Veterans.
I did it, by simply asking the question.
There are many Jewish men and women who are eligible for membership in JWV, but they have never been asked, or have not been asked recently.
I urge you to ask.
You may be pleasantly surprised at the answer you get.
Our membership is the lifeblood of our organization. Let’s keep it growing.
I want to continue highlighting our Department Commanders and am pleased to focus on Ron Sivernell, the new Department Commander of TALO
(Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma).
Sivernell joined JWV Post 755 in Fort Worth, Texas as a life member in 2005. He has served in multiple leadership roles, including Post Commander, the National Membership Committee, Vietnam Veterans Committee, Homeless Veterans Committee, and Committee for the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.
He served in the Army from 1971-1974. After basic training at Fort Ord, California, he spent a year in Electronics Training School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to learn cryptographic repair. He was assigned to the Presidio in San Francisco and Fort Baker, California. After the military, Sivernell spent ten years with the Fort Worth, Texas Police Department and worked as a probation officer for 32 years. He also completed a master’s degree and received a counselor license allowing him to run treatment programs in the probation department.
He and his wife Nelda have been married for almost 43 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.
If you have never been featured in The Jewish Veteran before, and you are currently serving as a Department Commander, please send me a picture wearing your Department Commander Cap, as well as a short bio, and we will publish it in the next issue of The Jewish Veteran.
Volume 76. Number 1. 2022