What kind of community do you create when all you have is a dream?
I often think about the Jews who settled here in generations past. When they arrived in Greater Hartford, there were no synagogues, no schools, no Jewish community center, restricted country clubs, and no social services sensitive to their way of life. Hospitals would not allow Jewish doctors to practice, and law firms made it clear that Jews were not welcome.
Yet these early pillars of our community shared a dream, articulated their vision and rolled up their sleeves to create the strong Jewish institutions we all benefit from today.
This week's Torah portion, Mikeitz, tells the story of Joseph and his rise to power in Egypt. Pharaoh has two troubling dreams and seeks help to interpret them. After all the priests and sages fail, Pharaoh hears about Joseph and summons him. Joseph predicts seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. Joseph is able to transform an abstract dream into a concrete vision and a call to action.
Our situation today is different, but the process is the same: We must convert our dreams into reality, building a community that is sustainable, inclusive and broad in its reach. And there's no fixed endpoint; the process repeats with each new generation.
Today I have the privilege of lighting the menorah at the Mandell JCC, a beloved institution that's a beautiful example of a dream realized. The "J" is the place where our diverse Jewish community gathers to celebrate together, learn together and, of course, exercise together. Every day this week, adults and children have been coming together to light the menorah and celebrate the wonders of Hanukkah, our holiday of miracles. The J and all of Greater Hartford's myriad of other Jewish institutions are our own local miracles - miracles fueled by a dream.
What miracles will we bequeath to the next generation? I invite you to dream, plan and build with me.
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Caption: Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream. Engraving from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible Illustrations at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, U.K.