Friends, as I am away visiting family this week, I have asked our Board Chair, Cary Lakenbach, to share his thoughts on the Torah portion. I hope you find his message as heartwarming as I do. Shabbat Shalom! - Howard
According to Jewish tradition, on the eve of Shabbat and holidays, before reciting Kiddush, parents bless their children.
We actually learn about this tradition in this week's parshah. Our patriarch Jacob blesses his children and his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph. Today, your children and mine are blessed with these words: "May G-d inspire you to live like Ephraim and Manasseh." There is no equivalent blessing for daughters in the Torah, but there is a blessing for girls derived from the book of Ruth: "May G-d inspire you to live like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah."
Friends, who else should be blessed? There are many, so join me on this "blessing" journey.
Why don't we start with the professionals who work at our various community organizations? I know that our Federation professionals under Howard's leadership work long and hard to support, invigorate and ultimately perpetuate our Jewish people. Here is just a partial list of Federation's responsibilities as Jewish Greater Hartford's communal leader:
- Caring for cemeteries that have no other communal support
- Training our future leaders through the Jewish Leadership Academy and other learning initiatives
- Supporting Jewish education with our innovative WOW! in a Box and teacher training programs
- Evaluating and funding the best community programs
- Mobilizing the Jewish community in times of crisis (Those of you who attended our HINENI event in October learned about Federation's work in Houston after its terrible floods, Puerto Rico after its hurricane disaster, and Parkland, Florida, after the horrific shooting there.)
- Repairing the world through programs such as Children's Reading Partners, which helps at-risk students learn how to read (over 400 volunteers serving 600-plus children!)
And of course, we bless the professionals at the many other Jewish organizations in Greater Hartford who work equally hard to support their organizations' missions.
Finally, blessings and gratitude go to each of you for providing the oxygen that our wonderful community needs to not only survive but thrive.
"Oxygen" takes on various forms here. The lay volunteers and leaders of Federation devote incredible amounts of their time and energy to support and sustain Jewish Greater Hartford, as do the many volunteers at our other community agencies.
And yes, we are immensely grateful to all of you who share your hard-earned dollars. Without you, we simply could not begin to achieve our mission.
Together, Jewish professionals, volunteers and donors do much more than ensure our community's survival. We breathe new life into our beautiful traditions, inspiring generations to come.
Shabbat Shalom, and G-d bless!
Chair of the Board