No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible*

Sitting at home, watching some astonishingly large and quiet snowflakes come down on Tuesday, I was reminded of the phrase in Isaiah that though our “sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

snowy street and housesAwed by the beauty and peacefulness of a neighborhood without cars moving on the streets, you sense how the snow can be a great equalizer. Everything is covered equally. It doesn’t matter how nice your car is, your house is, your driveway is. It doesn’t matter how green your lawn is. All are covered over. It’s a reminder of the power of nature over the individual — a reminder of both our own limits, and our own belonging. And (for those of us with a minimally basic understanding of meteorology) of our own uniqueness — like every flake of snow, we’re each here for our own special task.

Snow in Jewish tradition represents the concept of tshuvah, our chance to start again, to change. Most of us take for granted the reality that we do get another chance; that we can try again. It’s part of Jewish tradition, and it’s part of the beauty of the American Dream.

But there are many in our community who have less opportunity and who find themselves trapped in a reality that is far less hopeful. There are people who are hungry, people who are needy — right here in New Jersey. Jews who need help paying for their heating and electricity. Shoah (Holocaust) survivors who are homebound and won’t get the food or medicine they need without our help.

Federation and our supporters are committed to helping those in need in our community through our partners, Jewish Family Services of MetroWest and Central New Jersey (this past year, they gave out more than $120,000 in emergency assistance to individuals throughout our community — help with heating costs, rent, and food). We provide service opportunities throughout the year, and we raise awareness of the issue through educational programs like the enlightening This Is Hunger exhibit which will be rolling into Greater MetroWest on the back of an 18-wheeler truck later this month.

What this exhibit and the clients of our partner agencies remind us is that, despite the temporary equalization of the snow, we’re not all covered equally. But we are all responsible.

* By the great Polish-Israeli poet and wit Stanislaw Lec, in his book, More Unkempt Thoughts, 1962


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