On Rosh Hashanah, our synagogues burst at the seams with community members. And, like many of you, I look forward to gathering with friends and family. Unfortunately, our friends in Houston and Florida are not so lucky. More than a thousand people have been displaced from their homes, and Houston's two largest synagogues have been severely damaged. But this week's double parasha, Nitzavim-Vayeilech, shows us that our collective tent is big enough for all of us.
This Shabbat's Torah reading opens with this simple but profound statement: "You stand this day, all of you, before G-d... to enter into the covenant of the Eternal your G-d.... I make this covenant with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day and with those who are not with us here this day" (Deuteronomy 29:9-14). Some rabbis interpret these verses to mean that all Jewish souls - past, present and future - stood together at Sinai to enter into a special, unique relationship with G-d. This mystical concept that all Jews are spiritually connected to each other has become a cornerstone of Jewish communal life.
Today, we often express this connection through the metaphor of the "big tent" - a Jewish community where all are welcome, in the tradition of our ancestors Abraham and Sarah who welcomed G-d (disguised as strangers) to their tent.
This Shabbat, we are thankful for our big tent - but we are also keenly aware that for so many of our brethren, the real-life shelters they depend on are no longer viable. This is a prime opportunity to share our tent and stand together with those less fortunate. Federations across our nation have mobilized to help with relief and recovery in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Jewish Federations of North America's Hurricane Harvey relief effort has already raised about $12 million, but recovery and rebuilding needs are now estimated at $26 to $33 million. You can help the victims of all 2017 hurricanes by donating here. I'm proud to say that our Greater Hartford community has already raised more than $11,000 for these efforts.
The community that stood together at Sinai has grown in scope and geography, but we remain united under the big tent of our spiritual heritage. The Federation is a proud partner with local, national and international organizations dedicated to the well-being of all who enter that tent. On behalf of the Board and staff of our Federation, I want to extend our warmest wishes to all who share space with us. May you have a year filled with good health, sweet and joyous moments with family and friends, and comfort in knowing that we all stand together.
Shanah Tovah, and Shabbat Shalom.
President and CEO