January 6, 2023

Our Actions Speak for Us

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Like many of you, I’ve spent time this week discussing the latest updates from Israel. We’re continually asking ourselves what the role and responsibility of a community Jewish Federation is. Especially at this moment in time. We’re blessed to have a remarkable, vibrant, diverse, and wide-ranging Global Connections platform, that works to build shared society and pluralism projects, enhance a sense of peoplehood here and in Israel, and deepen partnerships to that end. So when asked for a statement about our relationship with Israel right now, my first response is precisely that our actions are our statement.That statement is a commitment to deepen our work with our partners in civic society and with those that focus on ensuring tolerance, diversity, decency, and a strong and secure Israel. This week alone, our Greater MetroWest Israel team brought Jewish and Arab children together in kindergartens and school programs, Jewish and Arab high school girls in a joint art program, Jewish and Druze pre-army cadets in a joint program near Haifa, and Jewish and Bedouin students at the Ben Gurion University and in a dialogue group in the mixed city of Lod! Just this week! I’m so proud of our team on the ground in Israel. They’ve worked this week – and every week – to support and train local Israeli municipalities in promoting religious diversity and LGBTQ rights in their cities, support the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements in Israel in enabling Israelis to express different and various Jewish rituals/identities, and more. Here in Greater MetroWest, we’re committed to maintaining open dialogue and tolerant discourse. Although we’re a diverse and dispersed Jewish community, I do think that the community dialogues have been a highlight of our shared New Jersey life. So, over the coming weeks, we’ll explore more ways to learn together, convene together, and discuss together:         What does our commitment to Israel look like?          What do our partnerships and platforms bring to that discussion?         And what more can and should we be doing in moments like this, in which our         connection to Israel brings new challenges and opportunities?I’ll be away at the beginning of the week in discussions with colleagues from across the country precisely on issues like this. I welcome your thoughts and input. Always. Send me an email to [email protected] and share your ideas on what we should do. But also share with me what you’re willing to do.          Will you sit in a group with someone you don’t know and learn together about Israel?         Will you come with us on our community’s Centennial Mission in a few months?          Will you read articles that may challenge you? Let me know. I’m grateful for you.