As Jews, we are commanded to conduct ourselves according to a set of values that have defined who we are as a people for over 5,000 years. When we act in accordance with a known commandment, it gives us a sense of pride and connection to the entire Jewish people. Consider how much greater satisfaction we feel when we fulfil a commandment not only through a sense of obligation but because it expresses our own personal values. When we act from internal commands - ones than emanate from the heart - we experience a much greater sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and personal reward.
In this week's Torah portion, Re'eh, we read of a commandment that has special meaning for me and my work at Federation:
"For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy kin in your land." (Deuteronomy 15:11)
While this commandment is directed to the individual, we know that it takes more than one open hand to fully address the needs of those in crisis. As individuals we can have a significant impact on the lives of others - but imagine how much greater our impact can be when we join together with determination and passion! This is exactly why the Federation evolved: to bring caring people together to transform the world and provide for those in need.
As Jews, we take pride in the fact that our tradition demands action to help the poor and needy. For many of us, this pride of responsibility is augmented by our own personal desire for Tikkun Olam - repairing the world by doing what is right.
The Federation changes lives. From Greater Hartford residents who have lost their jobs, to economically disadvantaged Ethiopians in Israel, to impoverished seniors in the Former Soviet Union, Federation empowers people who have lost hope. It educates those who seek to improve their lives and brings aid to those most desperate throughout the world.
We can't do this without your open hands. Our 2018 campaign is coming to a close. On this Shabbat, if you have contributed to the campaign, I thank you. If you haven't already made a pledge or gift, I ask that you consider opening your hands to support Federation's work on behalf of the entire Jewish community.
Together, we can help to ensure that everyone in our worldwide Jewish community has the opportunity to live a satisfying, productive, rewarding life. Let's open our hands to fulfill an ancient commandment and fill our hearts with joy and purpose.
Thank you, and Shabbat Shalom.
President and CEO