At the end of September, in the month of Tishrei, we dip a slice of apple in honey and awaken anew with the shofar’s blast. Such tradition signals new beginnings each year.
A new beginning for our Jewish community in Michiana is always exciting -- always full of promise.
But how will we ensure a bright future in a world so increasingly challenged by the things that tear us apart – the things that make us different?
Our New Year’s prayers for a good and sweet year remind us that we need to revere something beyond ourselves. In my world of Jewish community building, this precept speaks to our collective responsibility to build our future.
The Hebrew word for leadership is manhigut. It comes from the root word found in the word “behavior.” Effective leadership is about behavior and action. It’s about asking big and difficult questions and how we fulfill the promise of who we should and could be.
So, what does the future hold for our community?
We can’t fully know. So, we look for hints as to our destiny.
There are hints. Sometimes clear, sometimes not. But, one thing is certain. Change will come. It always does.
That’s why we plant seeds to nurture and grow. Seeds that mature and meet destiny halfway. Like you, I take great comfort in knowing we can meet the future by planning ahead.
Yet, this planning takes courage. It takes foresight. And everyone must have their say.
So, today I invite you to help plan for our future. Join me and other leaders from the community. We’re taking action. We’re working together. We’re planning a future that’s inclusive, compassionate, and dynamic.
It begins with a simple three-year plan. I call it Renewal Begins Now: A Vision for 2025. And I encourage you to join us in seeing that it will be a good and prudent plan for the Jewish way of life in our region.
At the heart is Jewish Peoplehood – a powerful concept with deep halachic roots (Jewish law). We shall build upon the foundation of K’lal Yisrael, which connects Jews as one people, regardless of how we worship and express our Jewishness in our day-to-day lives.
Peoplehood makes us one by celebrating diversity, not by imposing conformity. Just as we stood as one people at Mt. Sinai, we are still one.
This plan also calls upon the concept of Bayit Chazak -- a strong and courageous house. A house that is sustainable and that welcomes everyone.
The Federation? We are like Abraham and Sarah, whose tent remains open on all four sides so that anyone might enter for shelter and comfort. This is a duty. And it is vital to our Jewish identity and the values we treasure.
The truth? There is a palpable sentiment amongst our Jewish community that waiting for a better time is no longer acceptable. We must hear the shofar now, take its cries into our hearts and minds, and plan for the future – before we grow further apart.
Yes, reports of the state of Jewish life in America reveal great challenges. But, they also convey great hope.
Our denominational structures that have long characterized Jewish life in America are in decline. But Jewish life itself is on the ascent – especially among young people.
This is the exciting news. Young Jewish people go to camp. They engage in Jewish media more than their older peers. They talk about Jewish topics more often and engage more in Jewish cultural activities. And this means we have a strong foundation to build new upon.
The 28-acre campus of the Jewish Federation figures prominently in this future because it is aligned with all denominations. The campus is well suited to becoming a home for Jewish life and cultural enrichment.
We will always celebrate our diversity at the Federation. It is right, and it is good. And, of course, at the Federation, we are here for good.
To ensure a bright and fulfilling future in our community, we need you. Renewal Begins Now: A Vision for 2025 is about meeting the future halfway and then some. And I look forward to your enthusiastic participation.
L’Shanah tovah tikatevu v’tichatemu – May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.