Yesterday, I was honored to deliver the invocation at the 30th National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, presented by Greater Dallas Chapter AFP and KERA. Here it is:
Thank you for the honor of offering the invocation today. One of the best things about Jewish blessings associated with food consumption is that they are very short, and very inclusive. That makes me really popular at events like these. The usual blessing offered before a meal is the blessing over bread, bread being the historic staple of ancient meals and ceremonies. In this blessing we praise God for bringing forth bread from the earth.
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me these slices of bread don’t look like they came directly from the earth. So why do we use that phraseology? I believe it is to acknowledge those who bridge the gap between the earth, from which the wheat is harvested, and the table upon which the bread is served. Many unseen people were involved in the effort of turning that plant into this bread. We must be thankful to them. Without them, there is no bread.
The people sitting here today represent many wonderful causes, and most of the time they and their work are unseen. The formerly homeless neighbor living in permanent supportive housing might not know who I, the development professional, am. The person lying in a hospital bed may not ever meet the hospital’s volunteer fundraiser. The person, enjoying a museum’s latest exhibit, will seldom interact with its philanthropic benefactor.
And yet, without the tireless work of development professionals, volunteer fundraisers and philanthropists, there is no permanent supportive housing, there are no hospital beds, there are no museum exhibits. It is the work of these people that we acknowledge today, as I recite the traditional blessing over bread and over this wonderful meal, in Hebrew and in English:
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Amen