The Eternal spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your Gd, am holy. (Leviticus 19:12)
This Shabbat we will read Parsha K'Doshim where the people of Israel are commanded to be holy, one of the most abstract and difficult concepts we face as Jews and as human beings. Presented with so many examples, definitions and standards of what it means to be holy, we find ourselves searching for those unique ways to elevate ourselves in order to attain a degree of holiness our lives.
This was a week of sharp contrast. In two days, Jews around the world, but more specifically in Israel, memorialized all those many lives lost to war and terrorism, and within 24 hours celebrated the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel.
On Tuesday, Yom Ha'Zikaron, our community gathered at the Mandell JCC to remember the 23,447 lives lost in the 68 years Israel has been in existence. We mourned their loss, and we wondered what their lives could have been if not cut short by these acts of violence. For me, there is clearly something holy about making the ultimate sacrifice for something you believe in.
Yet I could not stop thinking about what Israel would look like had all these individuals lived and were able to fulfill their dreams and potential. On Wednesday we began celebrating Yom Ha'Atzmaout, Israel Independence Day.
The Zionist dream also represents a "What if?" moment that has showed the world that dreams can become reality.
Five years ago, a few members of the Federation Jewish Community Relations Council had a "what if" moment when they dreamed of a time when we would be able to build a strong bridge between the people of Connecticut and the emerging startup nation in Israel.
Last night that dream also became a reality. The Israel Innovation Showcase, a collaboration between the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center and the State Department of Economic and Community Development, introduced us to two Israeli companies who are moving their US headquarters to Connecticut as well as 70 additional companies in the pipeline.
Listening to these young Israeli startups speak of their successes in Israel and Europe, and share the incredible innovations they have created made me reflect on all those who we just mourned and what we might have seen emerge from those lives cut short.
Is using our imagination and letting ourselves reach for the stars an act of holiness? If we strive for ways to elevate humanity through imagination, creativity, ingenuity and innovation, we are doing acts of Tikkun Olam, an act of holiness.
Let us never underestimate the power of imagination! Shabbat Shalom,
President & CEO