Tools for Elul: Salem Leaman | Taking Care of Yourself by Helping Others

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If you want to take care of yourself and, at the same time, feel a little better about the world in which we live (and who doesn't)...volunteer! If not now, when?

I grew up in a home where volunteering was not a thought or a concept, it was an expectation and a responsibility. My parents actively volunteered at our synagogue, in Hadassah, various political campaigns and community improvement projects. The only questions for me were how and where to volunteer.

Over time, I've been involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, local civic associations, a couple of volunteer fire departments, the Salvation Army, and especially the synagogues where we have been members. All of that has been singularly rewarding.

When we moved back to Pittsburgh over two years ago, I joined the Aspinwall Fire Department, and my wife Carol and I became members of Rodef Shalom Congregation. We are both truly enjoying our volunteer experiences at RSC.

So, what are the rewards? Simply doing something for others without being asked should be enough of a reward. But when we volunteer at our Rodef, we are preserving our centuries old faith and traditions, and we also have a sense of being a part of a historic Jewish institution that in turn, is a significant piece of Pittsburgh history.

Personally, I will never forget the first time that, as a Salvation Army volunteer, I handed a cup of hot coffee to a cold, wet firefighter. He looked straight into my face and said, "Thank you." I felt that I was accomplishing something good: good for him and good for me. It was rewarding.

You can get that same feeling...just volunteer! If not now, when? How about tomorrow?

-Salem Leaman, Board of Trustees Member, Rodef Shalom

Rodef Shalom