Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
I hope you and your families and friends had a wonderful Chanukah. To me, there is nothing like all eight candles of the menorah burning brightly. It was with a bit of sadness that I returned our menorah to the fireplace mantel, where it will remain until next year.
Chanukah and the close of the calendar year tends to be a very busy time for most of us as our community’s organizations are deep into their programing season. This week alone, I was proud to serve as the leader of an interfaith panel discussion hosted by BBYO; my wife Lori and I attended the Valley of the Sun JCC’s gala, a fabulous success by the way; made calls for our campaign-close phone-a-thon; and attended a lovely Jewish Genetics Diseases Center event. As I reflect back on the week, I realize that these events, and the many others happening in our community, are an indication of the richness of Jewish life taking place in our Valley.
This week’s Torah portion is Vayigash (Judah Approaches Him) in Genesis. It was a strong moral compass that empowered Judah to offer himself up as a slave to his then unknown brother in Egypt, in place of his youngest brother, Benjamin, whom Joseph was holding at the time. It was Joseph’s moral compass that allowed him to reveal himself to Judah and to forgive him and all of his brothers.
The highlight of all I did during this past week was watching a room filled with interfaith teenagers “approach” each other at the BBYO dinner to learn and to celebrate Chanukah and Shabbat. The idea of “embracing our differences” and respecting the beliefs and ideologies of “the other” while proudly celebrating our own beliefs all develops a moral compass. If we continue to follow our compass in the direction of love, I am confident our Federation, and more importantly, our Jewish community, will continue to grow and will become the example for other Jewish communities—a community of collaboration and of cooperation.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.
Chief Executive Officer
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