One of the things that I like most about Judaism is that our tradition offers guidance to the most complicated questions. Sometimes we need to dig deep for answers and at other times the answers are very apparent. Whether we recognize our actions as stemming from our Jewish faith, or not, Judaism offers wisdom, spiritual guidance, values and ethics that shape our lives every day. Many times I meet with people who say to me, "I am not so Jewish. I really don't practice my Judaism very much." Yet, their actions are clearly those that come from our Jewish traditions and they act upon those values almost instinctively.
There are a few concepts in Judaism that speak to me in profound ways. One of these values is that all Jews are responsible for each other. We are obligated to make sure that we lift up those less fortunate than us. Where we see suffering, we are to do something about it. Coupled with repairing the world, tikkun olam, we learn in Judaism that we are supposed to leave our world better than how we found it, knowing that we cannot make it perfect. We are obligated to continue to make it better.
These two concepts in particular shape the work of Federation every day. These Jewish values make me incredibly proud of our faith and honored to work on behalf of the Jewish people. I feel fortunate every day that I work with volunteers and professionals who dedicate their time and resources to these ideals. It doesn't matter where you live, who you know, with whom you associate or where you work, these are universal notions for all of us. These are the values that bring us all together and can keep us going through good times and bad. This is what we need to focus on as a community, now and always.
November 9 was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, which was the definitive mark of the beginning of the Holocaust. This week Federation's Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information (CHAI) in partnership with the JCC Lane Dworkin Jewish Book Festival and the JCC's Holocaust Survivors Committee brought together a panel to discuss Perilous Journeys, a CHAI publication. The panel focused on stories of those survivors who remembered Kristallnacht. It was a very moving evening that reminded me once again how fortunate we are today that our Jewish world now has far more power than it did in the 1930's.
We have a State of Israel and the United States Jewish community enjoys more freedom and prosperity than we have ever had at any point in our history. We are able to act on our guiding principles freely. Regardless of whether we are happy or sad about this week's election, we are fortunate to be living in the United States protected by the freedom of our constitution. And, we have the power, ability and obligation to make our world a better place - every day. You can Get Involved. Donate. Make a Difference. Our Federation is here to help, support and offer this opportunity to our community. We need you and appreciate you. As I said at our opening event, we have a place and space for everyone.
Every week at Shabbat services we read a prayer for our country. I found this to be particularly meaningful when Rabbi Rachel Smookler read this on Wednesday evening at the program mentioned above. I share it with you again today and wish you a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat.
A Prayer For Our Country
Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country - for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.
Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
May this land, under your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom-helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: 'Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more' (Isaiah 2:4). And let us say: Amen.