Friends, this week has been full of transitions and new beginnings. Most of our local schools are back in session, and on Wednesday I had the pleasure of welcoming our new Israeli Young Emissaries, or shinshinim, Shaked Buzaglo and Michal Hacmon, to Connecticut for the 2019-2020 school year. Shaked and Michal will live with local host families and work in our schools, synagogues and other organizations to create a living bridge between Jewish communities here and in Israel. I've asked Heather Fiedler, Federation's vice president of Jewish education and leadership and director of the Jewish Leadership Academy, to share some words of inspiration with all of us as we begin this new adventure together. Shabbat Shalom. - David Waren
"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!" proclaimed Dr. Seuss in his book Oh, the Places You'll Go! With his usual rhyming advice, Dr. Seuss writes about what we might experience as we travel though the transitions in our lives.
In this week's Torah portion, Re'eh, Moses does something strikingly similar. Knowing that he will not see the Land of Israel, Moses tries to remind the Children of Israel of all the things he taught them to ensure their future success:
For you are about to cross the Jordan to enter and possess the land that the LORD your G-d is assigning to you. When you have occupied it and are settled in it, take care to observe all the laws and rules that I have set before you this day. (Deuteronomy 11:31-32)
This Shabbat, as we welcome Shaked and Michal and begin a new school year - and soon, a new Jewish year - the words of our Torah portion and the words of Dr. Seuss seem perfectly paired. Let's take a closer look.
"You have brains in your head. You have shoes on your feet."
Imagine what Shaked's parents instructed him as he left Nesher, his home in the north of Israel, for America: They likely reminded him to keep in touch with his family, including his sisters Rotem and Maayan, and to keep pursuing his passions, which include playing basketball. Shaked also brings with him the lessons he learned in his local scout movement and the activities he created as a camp counselor.
Michal's parents and her triplet siblings probably gave her similar advice when she left Gan Ner, a village on Mount Gilboa: They likely encouraged her to share her love of cooking and running and her curiosity about the world with us. Like Shaked, Michal also brings useful lessons from her youth movement involvement.
"Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way."
From the Torah to Dr. Seuss, all good parents and leaders try to prepare their "children" for what lies ahead. Shaked and Michal's parents no doubt hope that they will share the beauty and culture of Israel with us and have an amazing yearlong sojourn here. As we learn from each other, together we will build a bridge of understanding and friendship.
Please join us in welcoming them warmly.
Vice President, Jewish Education and Leadership
Director, Jewish Leadership Academy
Photo caption: Greater Hartford's Israeli Young Emissaries for 2019-2020, Shaked Buzaglo and Michal Hacmon.