Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
Coronavirus. Volatility in the stock market. OPEC+. There, I said it. What a whirlwind couple of weeks we have had. I can’t get the song “we didn’t start the fire” by Billy Joel out of my head. On a side note, I actually got to see Billy live in concert here in Phoenix exactly one year ago with my wife, Lori, my son Noah and some colleagues and friends. I had seen him many moons ago at Madison Square Garden with Elton John and what an unforgettable night that was! But I digress…
It is amazing how quickly our fortunes can turn. So as always, I find comfort in our 4,000+ years of Jewish tradition. It is in the Pirket Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers, where it is written, Al tifrosh min hazibur (do not separate yourself from your community). And, as so often happens when I write these Shabbat messages, these ancient pearls of wisdom could not be more relevant for the moment we are in. With a potential pandemic in our midst, with our hard-earned nest eggs taking serious hits, with our travel plans being canceled and our lives disrupted, it has never been more important to remember that we are part of a community and that kol yisrael aravim zeh ba zeh (all Jews are responsible for each other).
And that is exactly what happened here in the Valley of the Sun this past Thursday night when hundreds of our chevre (friends) came out to support the work of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and to hear the inspiring words of actor and mensch, Joshua Malina of “West Wing” and “Scandal” fame. Yes, a lot of money was raised and yes, a lot of campaign gifts were closed. And yes, we did honor David Weiner with Federation’s biggest award, the Medal of Honor and yes, we honored Esther & Don Schon, MD with the third annual Harold and Jean Grossman Award for their tireless work this past year and for many years before that. Most importantly that night, it felt good to be with our friends and extended family during these turbulent times.
And so we all look forward to the next opportunity to convene as a community. One such opportunity is Holocaust by Bullets. Please note that the exhibit has moved to the Tempe campus of ASU at the Noble Library and is available for view from March 16-April 24. Additionally, there are a limited number of spots available to reserve to hear Father Patrick Desbois on Monday, April 20 at the Franciscan Renewal Center. Reservations can be made here! If you have not yet experienced Holocaust by Bullets, I hope you will avail yourselves of the opportunity next week and over the next month.
This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tisa (when you take) in the book of Exodus, the second of the five books of Moses. In it the Israelites are told to contribute half a shekel of silver to the Sanctuary. This is the foundation for the concept of giving Tzedaka. Tzedaka which means justice and righteousness, not charity. It is the giving of tzedaka which has really made the Jewish nation stand out as a group that takes care of their own like no other. And it is a major reason why we continue to be able to convene as a community during difficult times such as those we are living in right now. May we continue to be a light onto ourselves and onto others so that we can see more love, more compassion and more healing in a rough and tumble world.
Light candles on Friday at 6:17pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 7:12pm.
I wish each of you a Shabbat Shalom.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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