This week we begin reading from the book of Deuteronomy, a special marker in the history of our people. The Israelites are completing their journey through the wilderness, having spent 40 years creating a community, a people. Moses, who has learned he will not be permitted to enter the Promised Land, addresses the people on the other side of the Jordan River. The Torah says that he addressed “all Israel” and not simply Israel. Why?
We believe this distinction recognizes that Israel is not a homogenous community. “All Israel” implies that the people of Israel are comprised of many different smaller communities, tribes, perspectives and practices. It underscores that the People of Israel survived not because they all agreed with each other, not because they held the same views of religious practice, but because they were bound together by a strong sense of shared experience, shared beliefs, shared values and the knowledge that a strong community is the best protection from external threats.
“All Israel” has tremendous relevance to us here in Greater Hartford. We are a diverse Jewish community that has a long and proud history of inclusion and tolerance. Despite our differences in observance, political affiliations and ethnic traditions, we are bound together by our values, shared identity and traditions. While not everyone cherishes Mom’s matzo ball soup, we all appreciate spending time with family and friends during our Jewish holidays.
The Federation embraces all the wonderful attributes of Jewish life - even if they are only meaningful to some of us - because as a whole, they form the vibrant mosaic of our community. We strive to help each member of our community pursue his or her Jewish journey in the way that is most personally meaningful and satisfying. We are “all Israel,” and we celebrate “all Israel.”
Be proud of the role you play as a member of “all Israel.” Feel good about the choices you make in expressing your Jewish values, and be confident in knowing you are part of something bigger than yourself.
President & CEO