With a grateful heart

I love that my life runs on two calendars, the secular and the Jewish. Each one seems to go faster and faster, and this year is no different. I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving and that it is already Kislev (with very few shopping days till Hanukah)!

Once the Jewish High Holy Days end, the national Jewish organizational calendar swings into high gear. The General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America, as well as other conferences, all took place over the course of about ten days earlier this month. And then back at home we had Shorashim, our first ever event to celebrate legacy donors to the Jewish Community Foundation, and finally, Super Sunday.

I truly enjoy the GA. It is a chance for delegates from various federations across North America to come together for a few days to learn what we are all doing to meet the challenges of modern Jewish life. We had a delegation of 33 attend from Greater MetroWest, including four of our staff and lay leaders who were honored to be asked to present Fedovation workshops on innovative practices. One was about providing training for community teens as they support children and teens with disabilities in inclusive Jewish settings. A second was about enhancing affordability in day schools, particularly for middle-income families. And the third was on building strong global connections within a federation community.

As reflected in these topics, there really was a sense at the GA that we are entering a new phase of organized Jewish life, where the forces of individualism that have prevailed over the last 20 years are evolving into the power of the collective to help communities make change. There was much less hand-wringing over the Pew Report and much more sharing of ideas about how to meet today’s (and tomorrow’s) Jews where they are.

You could see the same forces at work at Shorashim. It was an opportunity for us to recognize and thank the donors, at all levels of giving, who have ensured that their generosity will last far into the future. To honor the members of our community who, at whatever financial level they are able, have chosen to make a difference and support their synagogues, agencies, and day schools — the places that will sustain and unite our Jewish community for generations to come.

And Super Sunday? Super Sunday is all about the power of the individual – the power of the person making the call to give someone the opportunity to do a mitzvah and the power of the person answering the call to impact thousands of people they will never meet. And at the same time we came together to enjoy the day, stepping out of our individual hectic schedules to spend a few hours working for the betterment of the community.

What I have learned from the GA, from Shorashim, and from Super Sunday is that the tectonic plates that have been shifting underneath our feet in the Jewish world seem to be coming together to produce a moment where we understand that it is through the will and the passion of the individual that we can and will do our best work as a whole community.

As we approach Thanksgiving we have so much to be grateful for, living as American Jews and celebrating with our families the most unifying American holiday. I do want to take one moment to acknowledge the empty feeling I’m sure many of you will share with me in light of the devastating loss the world has seen in the last few weeks, shocking loss. For us as Jews, however, the loss of Jewish lives – simply for being Jews – sends such pain through our hearts. And for one Jewish family in Sharon, Massachusetts, the family of Ezra Schwartz, HY”D, just a few miles from where my family will be gathered, I hope and pray that they know that their loss is felt by all of us as one family.

With a grateful heart for our wonderful Greater MetroWest community,

Leslie

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