This week's Torah portion, Matot-Mas-ei, tells us how Moses recounted for the Israelites the detailed journey made from Egypt to the Promised Land - a journey that included 42 encampments. But Matot-Mas-ei is more than a travelogue; it asks us to recognize and appreciate the numerous steps we take toward reaching our goal. And while the Israelites' immediate goal was to reach the Land of Israel, all Jews throughout time have shared the goal of creating a Promised Land.
We can view each of the 42 encampments as a marker of progress, a place where the Israelites paused to regroup, consider past experience and incorporate what they had learned to help them get to the next stop. It took 42 stops for this group of former slaves to evolve into the People of Israel. It was, and it continues to be, a miraculous journey.
Last week I celebrated my own milestone: four years at the Federation. For me, each year has marked a new stop along the path to achieving a sustainable Jewish community that is positioned for maximum growth. Like our Israelite forebears, our community continues to evolve and grow as we build on what we've learned and the visions we've been blessed to receive. But we, too, have yet to reach the Promised Land.
Our community's evolutionary process is a bit like the Israelites': We can see where we need to go, and we're gaining a clearer vision of what the next stop will look like and what lies ahead. We may take time to reflect on the past - and it's comforting to do so - but the real challenge is to approach an uncertain future with vision and fortitude and to ask ourselves: Are we moving in the right direction? How can we welcome new travelers to join us on this journey? How can we stay committed to the journey, even if we as individuals do not live to see the Promised Land?
These are difficult questions which the Federation is prepared to answer. We are taking a critical look at where we've been, assessing where we are and trying to determine where we are going. A group of volunteers and professionals have been meeting to help formulate a vision of what our Promised Land should look like and what we must do to get there.
I hope and pray that each of you will keep traveling this path with us, rejoicing in each new milestone together.
President and CEO