The Puck Stops Here

Our Shul is in Presidential transition mode awaiting the upcoming membership meeting where we’ll vote and then witness the changing of the guard. In the years where we don’t have a vice presidential succession plan, it’s sometimes a difficult task finding the right person to accept the job. I blame Harry Truman and Hockey. Let me explain.

Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk that said ‘The Buck Stops Here’. It’s a play off the phrase ‘Passing the Buck’ which was originally a poker term, but has come to mean – not taking responsibility. By keeping the sign on his desk Truman was acknowledging that the President has to make the decisions and he was accepting the ultimate responsibility for those decisions. It seems that the sign was last sighted on the Presidential Desk during the Carter Administration.

I think some people reject the Shul Presidential position, not because of the amount of work involved, but rather because they don’t want to shoulder the responsibility for all that goes on in the Shul. In fact, that’s a better stance than accepting the position and then passing the buck.

Let’s segue to hockey. Except for a few notable exceptions the goalie is not a glamour position in hockey. After every goal scored, the goalie’s head is lowered because he ultimately is the one who let it go by. Yes, the defenceman should have done his job, but the goalie’s responsibility is ‘The Puck Stops Here’.

It’s the same with the Shul President. Even if your budget is in the black, with a great Rav, and solid people in key roles behind you, there will be some shots on goal that you’ll have to handle. They can’t be anticipated, and there’s sometimes a significant difference between a save and a flub. The truth is most of the flubs are not season enders, but it takes strength and commitment to be in the net night and day for two years.

I tip my hat to both the outgoing and incoming president for accepting the responsibility of the position. The upside is that although it looks like a long season, I don’t know of any president who regretted it after their term of service ended. It’s pretty clear that along with the responsibility comes tremendous satisfaction and merit for the tens of thousands of minutes of davening, learning and chesed that takes place in the Shul each year under your reign. Yasher Koach!

Reposted in honor of the outgoing EH and the incoming YK.