What do these moments have in common?
- 20 Israeli and Greater MetroWest volunteers work together to rebuild a house in Union Beach after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. They live together for a week, study Jewish texts, and create life-lasting bonds.
- 40 young adults gather on a Friday afternoon on a roof top in Tel Aviv. They are all “global members” of Greater MetroWest – former rishonim, Cherkassy olim, madrichim, NJ lone soldiers, Masa participants, as well as some former Federation professionals.
- 35 people, Israelis and Americans, are in Ombuber, Ethiopia, listening as an Atzmaut case worker points out a tiny room and tells them that this was his grade school. As a child he ran five miles each morning to get there on time, and now he was back for the first time since moving to Israel.
- 450 Greater MetroWest visitors disembark a train in the Negev development town of Ofakim. While in the station they hear a group of local teens beautifully singing for them Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in Hebrew.
- 30 people from Greater MetroWest and their Israeli partners sit together in a dark cave in Beit She’arim, studying together by candlelight about Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, the Mishna editor, who is buried right there.
- 20 Israeli couples, Druze women and their spouses, visit Greater MetroWest, staying with host families, running workshops, meeting with public officials, and touching the hearts of some 500 Americans.
- 15 children in Cherkassy, Ukraine celebrate their b’nai mitzvah together with their entire tiny Jewish community. They are joined by American and Israeli madrichim, some of whom are becoming b’nai mitzvot themselves.
- 25 Peoplehood Project fellows from Greater MetroWest and Israel emotionally discuss the meaning of Yom Hazikaron at Mt. Herzl, the official military cemetery. At the same time, Diller Teen Fellows from Greater MetroWest and Rishon LeZion commemorate the memory of one of their own, Matan Gotlib z”l.
- 600 Greater MetroWest women listen as an 18-year-old Israeli tells them that they have already touched his soul and shaped his life four times – when they helped bring him from Ethiopia to Israel, when they helped his family integrate through Project Atzmaut, when they accepted him to become a Diller Teen Fellow, and when they opened their hearts and homes for him as a rishon (young Israeli emissary).
- 100 visitors from New Jersey, including some public officials, are en route from Kibbutz Erez to Ofakim when they get a call from their newly made friends in Erez telling them that the World Trade Center is under attack and that they should turn around and come back to the safety and tranquility of Erez.
All of these encounters are global connections which our Federation provided. No other organization is better at creating such moments than Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. Indeed, this is my personal list, and not all readers will know what I am talking about. I suggest that each member of our community, whether in New Jersey, Israel, or Ukraine, make efforts to participate in experiences through our network of partnerships that will give birth to such memories. And I urge everyone to share their formative moments with the rest of the community. This is our way to build a shared memory, communal identity, and sense of peoplehood. Like in a menorah, each one’s moment is a small candle, and together we shed a strong light.