This week, in Parashat Va’etchanan, Moses is again denied access to the Land of Israel despite his persistent prayers, but he is permitted to peer across the river to the “land of milk and honey.” He speaks to the Israelites and reinforces the importance of keeping the Commandments when they enter the land. It is in this portion of the Torah that we learn of the unique role the Jewish people will be expected to assume in the world for all future generations. We are told that we were selected among the nations of the world not because we were such a large nation but, in fact, because we were one of the smallest:
“It is not because you are the most numerous of peoples that the L-rd set His heart on you and chose you – indeed, you are the smallest of peoples; but it is because the L-rd favored you and kept the oath made to your fathers….” (Deuteronomy 7:7)
Why is our size such a determining factor? Certainly, being such a small nation was not a huge advantage when we had to wage war, establish a homeland or harness all of the necessary resources to ensure our survival. Perhaps it’s because being small gave us closer and stronger connections on the ground, enabling us to be nimbler and more responsive in crisis situations. We’ve all heard of large organizations with broad goals and big aspirations that ultimately can’t deliver because of bureaucracy. Sometimes, being small is an asset.
Yesterday we met with the President and the CEO of the Israel Chamber of Commerce, who were visiting our community to explore ways of strengthening the economic ties between our two countries. Learning about the accomplishments and continuous growth of the Israeli economy was breathtaking. In less than 70 years, Israel has created one of the most vibrant and successful economies in the world. Israel is exporting and importing goods and services from across the globe. Again we see that size does not always matter. In these times when Israel is being targeted and its legitimacy questioned, we stand proud in our support of the State of Israel, a true miracle. We all share in Israel’s accomplishments, which inspire us to honor the sacred responsibility that comes with being a favored nation.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford has similar defining characteristics. We are small but powerful, few in numbers but big in impact. We have a broad mission with strong local connections. Like Israel, we benefit from being smaller and leaner; our size makes us that much nimbler in planning for and responding to community needs.
The Greater Hartford Jewish community may be relatively small, but our local and national impact is great. As a leading innovator in philanthropic giving, our Federation created the Pearl Society - a new approach to engaging young women that is now being adopted in other communities. We are bringing exciting experiential learning to our religious schools through the WOW! program and building the pipeline of future Jewish leadership and engagement through our Young Adult Division. We’re extending our reach and demonstrating our unique value not only here in Greater Hartford but also around the country.
This could not happen without your ongoing support, and for that I am so grateful. Our Jewish community may not be the biggest, but our impact is impressive. Every day, individuals’ and families’ lives here and around the world are forever changed because of what we do.
President & CEO