Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
So another New Year has come and gone and now we enter the 21st century version of the roaring 20’s. And I will be turning 56 years old this Shabbat on January 11th. It is true what they say about the years going faster as we get older.
I really do have so much to be grateful for. A wonderful wife and life partner of 31 years, two terrific and healthy kids, thank G-d, and a couple of wonderful dogs in my life, one mine and another my son’s. Lastly, I am so fortunate to have a job that I continue to be passionate about. It is such an honor for me to serve as your President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. Along with so many wonderful volunteers and professional colleagues, I just witnessed the completion of my 32nd Federation Campaign. We raised $4.4 million dollars in TFRD (Total Financial Resource Development) and I am so proud of our community. The money helps us to fulfill our mission to strengthen and engage a vibrant Jewish community while providing for Jews in need wherever they may reside.
After all that has been happening in our world, I would be remiss if I did not decry the disgusting acts of hate, specifically anti-Semitic attacks that took place in New York just last week culminating with the attack in Monsey. As the son of a father who was forced to leave his home in Offenburg, Germany in December of 1937, along with his older brother Martin (my name sake) and my grandparents, Otto and Laura, due to Jew hatred and xenophobia, I am stunned, sickened and so disappointed that eight decades after the Holocaust we see the embers of anti-Semitic hate once again rearing its ugly head even here, in our United States of America.
This week’s Torah portion is Vayechi (lived), the last portion in the book of Genesis. In it, as Jacob prepares to die, he assigns each of his sons representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel specific attributes. Make no mistake, we Jews get our name “Jew” from the tribe of Judah (who will produce leaders). I can only speak for myself when I declare that I refuse to hide my Judaism from anyone. I implore each of us to be proud of our heritage and while promoting peace, stand up for the right to express who we are and to never allow ourselves to be bullied.
This week also reminded me why it is so vital to maintain a strong, vibrant, engaged Jewish community, so that when any members of our “tribe” are attacked, we are prepared to respond and to stand up for our brothers and sisters wherever they may be — and anyone for that matter who is being picked on or singled out for being different. I hope you will join me in this resolve in the coming year.
Light candles on Friday at 5:20pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 6:19pm.
I wish each of you a Shabbat Shalom.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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