Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
For the first time in a number of weeks, there really hasn’t been anything earth shattering that requires commentary in this space. And you know what, I’m OK with that! So what I will speak about this week is how important Jewish rituals have been to me since the world changed in mid-March as a result of COVID-19, and of course the recent protests and social unrest in our society. I have shared the Zoom Bat Mitzvah, drive by Bar Mitzvah, Zoom wedding of a colleague, and sadly, last week the online funeral of Rabbi Micah Caplan, Z”L. Well, today, as I write this message, is the 22nd Yahrzeit of my father, Z”L, Otto Haberer. I loved my dad very much and his was not an easy life. Born in Offenburg Germany, he and his family came to the states on a boat via Ellis Island, with absolutely nothing, in December of 1937. In 1945, at the age of 14, he lost his only sibling, who, as I recounted recently, was killed in a battle during WWII at the age of 19. My dad was a shoe salesman, married at 33 and raised my younger brother and me in the Inwood section of Washington Heights in Manhattan, where he died of a heart attack on a stair stoop at the age of 68. Though he left no material wealth per se, he was a very bright and well-rounded man. An opera singer, who also loved classical music, he boasted about owning over 1,000 classical albums at one point. He knew his Shakespeare and loved Jack London and Edgar Alan Poe. He taught me to play baseball, how to bowl, and how to play tennis and ping pong. He was a gentle man and a good father to his boys. And last night I lit his Yahrzeit candle for the 22nd time. I spoke with him for a few minutes and said Kaddish…and felt very Jewish doing so.
One of the things I am most proud of during my five years of employ at the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, is that when I got here, we had two people on the JFNA Young Leadership cabinet. Today, we have 14 with another two candidates having just applied. And, our very own Rachel Hoffer just completed her term as Cabinet Co-Chair, for all 146 Federations in North America. We can all be pretty proud about that! Cabinet members, who must be under 40 to apply, commit to a minimum annual contribution to their Federation of $5,000 for a five year period. Having this many young leaders engaged with our Federation bodes well for the future of our Phoenix Jewish community.
This week’s Torah portion is Korach in the Book of Numbers. Korach and a sizable group of leaders challenge Moses and his choice of Aaron as High Priest. The rebellion is put down and Aaron’s staff miraculously grows almonds, to prove that he is indeed the rightful selection to the High Priesthood. For me, the 14 and hopefully soon to be 16, Young Leadership Cabinet members are the rightful inheritors of the leadership of our Jewish Federation and major players in the future of our Jewish community. They will continue the traditions that have meant so much to us and our ancestors, including Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam, as well as Yahrzeit and Kaddish, and they will build new traditions and reshape older ones to suit their needs and the needs of their children. I love being a link in that chain, and I hope you do as well.
In the spirit of young leadership development, the NowGen Board is now accepting applications for new members! NowGen connects Jewish adults in their 20s through 40s in community, philanthropy and leadership. We offer a wide variety of programming to help individuals and families LIVE, GIVE and LEAD Jewish. Become a member of the NOW Generation that creates a stronger, vibrant Jewish community in the Valley of the Sun, in Israel and worldwide. Visit jewishphoenix.org/nowgenboardapp to apply. Application deadline is Monday, June 29.
Light candles on Friday at 7:23pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 8:25pm.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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