There is one line in this week's Torah portion, Shoftim, that offers us a certain perspective about how we look to the future. While discussing the emerging leadership structure of the newly formed tribes of Israel and realizing that new leaders may wish to return to Egypt to acquire additional horses, G-d instructs that no person should be sent back to Egypt for any purpose: "You must not go back that way again." While these instructions were intended for a very specific purpose, their applicability today has special meaning for me.
By now most of you know of my plans to retire next spring. This decision was not easy and demanded careful consideration of a multitude of factors. What made it easier is knowing that the Federation is on solid ground, prepared and energized for the future.
Personally, I would welcome the chance to return to the beginning of my time at Federation, but only if I could do so with the knowledge and insights I have acquired these past four years. Looking back can certainly shine a light on our path forward. It is an easy default to continue doing what you have always done. It is safe and comfortable - but does it get us to where we need to be?
I strongly believe that our community is ready to embrace new possibilities that may at times seem impossible in order to ensure a bright future. Past solutions are just that: solutions that worked under conditions that no longer exist. They are simply reference points and markers along the road to the future.
We at the Federation understand and embrace the need to look forward. We recognize that past solutions may not apply to current challenges. That said, to "not go back that way again" doesn't mean we reject past approaches completely; it means we recognize there may be better ways to achieve our goals today.
Our Jewish community is one that embraces change and supports new ideas. We are not afraid to confront new challenges and pursue new dreams. Together, the diverse individuals and organizations that make up Jewish Greater Hartford have been doing so for decades. We helped Soviet Jews make a new home in our community. We responded quickly and generously to assist our unemployed neighbors during the Great Recession and our Puerto Rican compatriots in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We established a Jewish Leadership Academy that will lead us into the future with vision and resilience.
This is a tremendous blessing. I believe our fearlessness, our vitality, and our continued work to include every Jew on this journey will bring our community to even greater heights in the upcoming New Year.
There is much work to do, and we have much to celebrate, as we build an ever stronger Jewish community. I hope you will join us!
President and CEO
Photo: View of Greater Hartford from Heublein Tower.