Between Us: Let’s Talk About the Business of Community

Between Us

This week’s parasha, Pekudei, concludes the Book of Exodus with an accurate accounting of the metals used in building the tabernacle. “Take from among you gifts to Adonai, everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them – gifts for Adonai: gold, silver and copper; blue, purple and crimson yarns, fine linen and goats’ hair….” (Exodus 35:5-6)

A number of commentaries focus on the behavior of Moses, who, upon God’s commandment, gives a precise accounting (pekudei) of the gold, silver and copper used in the construction. The precious metals and other gifts were given voluntarily by the Israelites – true “gifts from the heart.” Moses accounted for the fact that each donation was used properly and completely in building the tabernacle.

Thus, a standard has been set for leadership and for our Jewish communal institutions that all of us who work on behalf of the community are both accountable and subject to the highest ethical standards of conduct. We owe to all those who voluntarily contribute to our community’s well-being a full and accurate accounting of communal dollars. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has a rigorous and transparent process of volunteer oversight, independent auditing and online reporting of our financials. Even Moses, who was beyond reproach, invited scrutiny in the use of public funds — a lesson for all of us involved in the “business of community.”