Today is Blintzapalooza day at Temple Beth Hatfiloh, at once the most counter-intuitive and the most appropriate day for a Jewish congregation.
Blintzaplooza was started by TBH members 25 years ago as a means to give back to the community, when it was felt by some that the congregation was not engaged enough outside its walls. (It was also a time when it was harder to get bagels in Olympia.) The premise is simple: invite the entire Olympia community to buy blintzes, bagels (with cream cheese and/or lox) and used books. Sell some hats and merchandise. Throw in some Jewish culture and a Jewish baking contest. And then, GIVE ALL THE MONEY AWAY.
For synagogues that must be self-sustaining, it would seem like an odd thing to put months of planning and many volunteer hours into a fundraiser which does not benefit us financially. (Blintzapalooza usually raises upwards of $10,000). But it is more than a fundraiser. It is a community event, and it is a way we can live out our values of tzedakah. Plus, all the money goes to local charities, in order to help our immediate neighbors. We may not line our pockets, but we become rich in other ways.
Al tifrosh min a tzibbur—Do not separate yourself from the community, Hillel advised in Pirke Avot. We take these words seriously. Through Blintzaplooza we lift up our neighbors and we lift up ourselves.