How many contracts do we enter into during our lives and what value do we place on these agreements? Are they any less valuable if we did not personally negotiate the terms even though we are expected to abide by the conditions of the agreement? What if the contract is a covenant between G-d and the people of Israel?
This week’s Torah portion, Yitro, sets forth the covenant that the people of Israel accepted at Sinai in receiving the Ten Commandments. It binds us forever to the core values that have become a universal set of principles guiding our moral and ethical behavior. It establishes a sacred bond between us that requires all of us to uphold standards of moral conduct but to translate that into acts of moral and ethical action.
For over 30 years, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford has quietly managed and maintained 28 old Jewish cemeteries that were established by organizations or synagogue's that are no longer in existence. We believe that as Jews, we have a sacred covenant to each other that not only governs our actions while alive, but obligates us to care for those who have departed. With few remaining gravesites still available, and without much fanfare, the Federation continues to provide a proper Jewish funeral and burial for indigent Jews. And for those families who have loved ones buried at these cemeteries, we ensure that the final resting place of their loved ones are cared for and visited.
We cannot assume that all share the same commitment and respect the dignity of those who are gone. This morning, at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Hartford, 20 headstones were found knocked over. This is an act that clearly targeted our Jewish cemetery, an act of incredible callousness and cowardice. Such behavior demands a unified outcry from our entire community condemning such blatant disrespect and defamation of sacred ground and property.
It is especially disturbing that this occurred on the International Day of Commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust, a day when the world pauses to remember all the millions of innocent lives who perished during the Holocaust.
Just as the Jewish people entered a covenant with Gd, we have a covenant with our Jewish community: a contract binding us to our moral and ethical obligations to care for each other in life and death. To protect each other from those forces that seek to harm us and help strengthen those who lift us to greater heights.
It is only with a strong Federation that we can ensure that the needs and best interests of our community are addressed in ways consistent with our core moral and ethical principles contained in that initial contract, entered into on Mt. Sinai so many years ago.
Again, I thank you for all your support. We cannot do this work without you.
President & CEO
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