From the Rabbi - October 2013 Print
Dear Friends:

This is going to date me, big time. When I was a child in Washington, DC, just after the conclusion of WWII, we used to hear about the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) football team, and, especially, two stand-out players.  One was called Mr. Outside; his real name was Felix “Doc” Blanchard.  His partner was Glenn Davis, Mr. Inside.  Together, they made an irresistible running combination, and each of them won the Heisman Trophy, Blanchard in 1945 and Davis a year later.  They were a legend: Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.

As the college football season swings into the fullness of its schedule in October, these two players came to my mind.  I’ve been thinking about them because I have come to recognize that a one-dimensional running attack cannot succeed.  Today, of course, the passing game has risen to a much higher prominence, but if all you have is a fullback who plows ahead for “three yards and a cloud of dust,” you aren’t going to win many games.  So, too, if your offense is limited to a halfback who can scoot wide around the end, the defense will catch on rather quickly and you’ll again be on the short end of the score.  One without the other doesn’t get you very far.   The only way to make decent headway as a football team is to have a diversified, multifaceted offense.

Now, if you apply this thinking to Congregation Beth Israel, you might want to think about our equivalents to Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside.  It is a wonderful source of pride that our members take such a significant part in the welfare of the general community of Corpus Christi.  In almost every important and progressive dimension of our public life, members of this congregation are active, often as leaders.  The major charities of our community all benefit from leadership, participation and contributions from our members.  Arts, educational and health-related causes almost always have meaningful participation from CBI membership.  Many of the civic clubs of our city, like Rotary and Masons and others, welcome and benefit from the involvement of our people.  And, whether you agree with all the proposals or not, it is hard to find an economic development project in our community that does not have major Jewish involvement.  Our “Mr. Outside” is very healthy and a source of considerable gratification to all of us.

But what about our “Mr. Inside.”  With our upcoming Jewish Food Fest, a large number of you will be involved, and that’s wonderful.  But for most of the other activities that the congregation offers, the same ten percent of our membership comes over and over again.  Ninety percent of you do not participate in learning or worship or virtually any other programs.  Don’t take my word for it.  I am tempted to say look at the congregation on a typical Friday night or at any adult education session – I’d say “look” except that most of you aren’t there to see the evidence.  

Our “Mr. Inside” is suffering a major anemic plague, and that’s serious because, as I noted with a football team, unless you have both dimensions of the team healthy and working together, the offense stalls and goes virtually nowhere.  So, I challenge you.  If you want CBI to be a “winning congregation,” you have an obligation to help reinvigorate the internal dimension of our involvement and program.  We’re offering some really fine opportunities for your participation.  Now, it’s up to you to make the choice and to commit as much energy and effort to the “Inside” as you do to the “outside.”  No one can make this choice for you, but we can point to the consequences of a negative choice – a congregation that slowly dwindles and dies – and the impact of a positive choice – a congregation that thrives, excites its membership and makes a major contribution to the welfare of the entire community.

Looking forward to seeing you inside our congregation, I send you greetings of Shalom.

Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi