Strong. Brilliant. Inspiring. Resilient. Proudly Jewish.
What next steps will we take as a community to reimagine our Jewish future 5784? During the month of Elul leading up to the Days of Awe, our tradition of heshbon nefesh, (soul searching) calls us to take stock of where we are as a requisite step before taking action in the new year.
This introspection to prepare for the New Year intensifies with the Jewish custom of blowing the shofar daily during Elul. The shofar blast is to arouse us from our complacency.
A crucial part of my preparation for the New Year is reconciling the past year into a summary report – an accounting of what worked, what didn't, where we succeeded, and where we fell short of the mark. The beauty of this report allows me to bid farewell to the old year properly.
A traditional greeting for this time of year gets right to the point: "May the old year with its trials and tribulations come to an end; may the new year and its blessings begin!" It's only natural to want to jump over the first part of this greeting and get straight to the blessings. Taking this shortcut is ill-advised. A new vision to chart our course forward is only possible if we know the coordinates of our present position.
It's easy to tell ourselves we're moving full steam ahead when we may be just "going in circles." Ancient mariners knew that the only way to make safe passage over a long, difficult sea journey was to take their bearings from the North Star. Even on dry land, we must constantly revisit and articulate our core values, our North Stars, as individuals, families, and communities.
You, your families, and the health and well-being of our community matter most. This threefold constellation is our North Star for any new community vision.
Our community means too much to settle for the status quo. I never met a status quo strategy for change that I liked. Fresh, innovative solutions are needed. Dialogue and agreement are required -- to successfully address the questions around financial sustainability, vibrancy, and impact of the community we call home.
The Federation ascribes to the idea that community members engage Jewishly when they find deep personal meaning, purpose, and authentic connections. It is the desired outcome at the core of everything we do at the Federation.
I can't wait to see how we'll reimagine our future as a result of our open and inclusive participatory process leveraging our shared values and resources. During this journey, the Federation will remain steadfast in its mission. We will identify, support, and address our community's most pressing social service issues and provide life-saving humanitarian relief and breakthrough programs for all ages to sustain the Jewish community today and for future generations.
Elul primes us for the changes we seek in the new year. The shofar urges us that no matter what, we must embrace a brighter future and the time-sensitive challenges that await us. To this end, the Federation is motivated to work and prosper with our community partners in 5784.
Now more than ever, our partnership must be strong, brilliant, inspiring, resilient, and proudly Jewish. With open hearts and hands, we'll embrace our Jewish story and renew our community in our time.
May we be blessed with insights, inspiration, and action in the coming New Year.
Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley