I can't call it the annual dinner because, for reasons I do not need to discuss at this juncture, last year's didn't happen. This made this year's dinner even more vital than just the fund-raising - if it failed, we would never have another.
jonbaker was the journal chair. The journal is one of the two main sources of income, the other being the cost of admission itself. People buy ads in the journal - businesses for the usual business reasons, people in support of the honorees or the synagogue or the rabbi or in memory of someone or all of the above (in my old synagogue, one unmarried man advertised himself.) It also, of course, provides space for messages from the rabbi and the president, and bios of the honorees. Everyone who gives an ad and every family who attends the dinner gets a copy.
The editor collects the ads and formats them and arranges the printing, and Jonathan spent the last few weeks, since Passover, doing just that. Ads come in several levels, from a quarter page to the two page diamond spread (which cost $1000 and was brand-new this year and which we honestly never expected to get. The idea was to shoot for the moon, knowing no one would spend that much. We were wrong in that, but if we hadn't had that level, or several others above our gold page (the former highest level), we would have gotten substantially less money.) The journal came out well, too, with linen paper because we found a good and inexpensive printer who had that paper on hand. Made it something we were proud to give out, as opposed to the last journal, which was a comb-bound "zine."
Jonathan left early, so he didn't witness my getting-dressed struggles. I have three suits, ranging from very formal to almost casual. I wanted to wear the navy blue (most formal) suit last night. And I was nearly dressed - I had on the skirt and scarf combo (dark grey over sparkly purple, so the purple only showed in the front twist) and even had the modesty panel buttoned to jacket. All that was left was buttoning the jacket itself. and that's when I saw that the top button was broken off - only the shank was still there. And I was already late, so even if there had been an extra button sewn on the jacket, which there wasn't, I wouldn't have had time to sew it on.
So, I had to get out my pinstripe. It was perfectly fine for the occasion, of course, but I don't like wearing it since it's always been a little tight. Not obviously, but I can feel it when I sit down. Also, I had the slit sewn up, and they did a poor job, so now I can't make full strides in it (I'd have been happier if they'd added a pleat of plain dark grey.) Plus, the jewelry I'd picked out and my headscarf combo wouldn't work. So I changed completely, layering the dark grey over a white scarf and pinning on a rose brooch. And then I had to search for my evening bag so I could fill it with my cellphone and pda and a single key and some cash just in case. No comb, no makeup, no tissues. The little bag is very cute, though. :)
At one point Jonathan called me because I was so late, but he understood why.
The dinner itself - well, the dinner chair had found a hall that was not only beautiful and comfortable (and convenient for us), but also handicapped accessible. As one of our most valued members is in a wheelchair, this was very important. He also picked a fine caterer who didn't quibble when we added extra people. We sat at the rabbi's table because Jonathan was on the dinner committee, along with the other chairman, and the very special woman who basically keeps the synagogue going, plus another couple. Jonathan spent part of the dinner discussing the rabbi's latest sermon with him, and I had a lovely chat with the rebbitzen, who is a special ed teacher.
But the best part was the speeches - the rabbi's as eridite as ever, the others heartfelt and real-feeling, and all of them were full of praise for the committee. And when that special woman was mentioned the first time, she got a standing ovation, as she deserved. No one else got one - not the rabbi, not the other members of the committee, not even the honorees (our out-going president, our gabbai (think "deacon") and the three families making aliyah (moving to Israel) this summer, one of which was the out-going president.) No one else deserved one, either. She's just one of those people who see something that needs to be done that she can do, and she does it. The gabbai is the same sort - he's going to be the next president, but only on the condition that he still clean up after the various collations we have. *His* condition.
But Jonathan was also thanked. Repeatedly. For the wonderful job he'd done on the journal. Not effusively, not over-the-top, but in exactly the way he'd earned it. The only thing worse than not getting praise one has earned is to get undeserved, and that didn't happen. And I sat between these two people and felt like I had a seat of honor myself. (Orthodox Jews tend not do boy-girl-boy-girl seating. If they have mixed seating at all, it's either one half male and one half female with a couple at the boundaries or husband-wife-wife-husband, with engaged/dating couples treated as married and singles seated between members of the same sex. Many feel it's inappropriate for non-related men and women to sit next to each other.)
Okay, there was the one moment when Jonathan offered "Three Cheers for Captain K" - one of the honorees and a dear friend, who is a big Marx Brothers fan, and then had to explain why he dragged out three chairs to our rabbi. But otherwise, it was just lovely.