As I write this month’s message, I have been distracted by the news of yet another terrible gun tragedy, this time in Jacksonville, Florida. With the High Holidays approaching, I reflect on the past year and think about the coming year and how we can make a positive difference in the world. This past year has been marked by tremendous violence in the United States and in Israel. The political rhetoric has been escalating and many lament a lack of civil public discourse. Despite the negative news cycle, I always approach the High Holidays with a sense of hope and renewal, and easily find experiences that reinforce my sense of optimism.
I met with our new shaliach, Shay Rubenstein, just three days after he arrived in the US. His unbridled excitement and passion for sharing his love and knowledge of Israel with our community is contagious. Listening to a young man whose “normal” includes living under the constant threat of rockets from Hamas and being at the center of world-wide criticism for public policy decisions gives me great hope about the resiliency of Israelis and Jews around the world. I hope you all get a chance to meet Shay in the coming months and to participate in one of his many programs.
This new year of 5779 brings new opportunity, new promise and new ways for our community to engage and create a strong sense of belonging. We are now fully staffed and have lots of new and creative ideas around outreach and engagement. Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss Sushi & Meet the Shaliach in the Sukkah, Israel Café, the Great Challah Bake, our Pom/Lion tea, and many more programs. While our thoughts are often focused on how we can engage and support each other within our own community, we must not lose sight of helping those we cannot see. That includes Jews in need within our own community and overseas. As we reflect on our blessings during this holiday season, I hope you’ll take a moment to think about those less fortunate and about ways you can support them.
Wishing all of you a sweet and healthy new year!