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Marty’s Shabbat Message – May 14, 2020

Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),

I blinked and here we are in mid-May. In fact, this year marked my five year anniversary on the job here at the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and for over three years, I have been blessed to serve as the organization’s President and CEO.

Even if I had the power to do so, I wouldn’t change a thing. The friendships my family and I have made, the people we have come to know and the small and large trips we have taken, as we have become familiar with this geography, have truly been a priceless gift.

And while there have certainly been difficult moments, leaders who have moved on, colleagues who have come and gone, and of course circumstances such as this pandemic which we are all facing together, I can’t help but feel so blessed to be in a position to help and to work with remarkable and selfless individuals whose only motivation is to work to assure a vibrant Jewish community for all of us. In moments like these, difficult decisions have to be made in the best interests of the community and the organization, and I am and have been making them. These decisions impact people’s lives and they are the hardest part of running any organization. My heart goes out to those affected by the changes that I have felt compelled to make in order to ensure the present and future wellbeing of our Federation.

On a much more joyous note, I experienced my very first “drive by” bar mitzvah this past Friday and it is yet another innovative way we have learned to operate in the new normal. I was proud to hop in my car, make the half hour drive to and from the bar mitzvah boy’s home in order to wish a hearty mazel tov and then have my photo taken, from the car of course, with the “man of the hour.” And, I am becoming nimble with Zoom and even created my own background pic for the first time this past week.

Speaking of the “new normal”, the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) has quickly shifted their daily schedule to on-line classes throughout this pandemic. They have created meaningful ways to maintain normalcy through Jewish learning. Their adult learners are grateful for the opportunity to see one another in the virtual meet-ups and to learn with teachers they have come to admire. Please join them in learning from home at and join me in wishing a virtual mazel tov to those young adults who graduated from Hebrew High this week.

This week’s double Torah portion is Behar (on the mountain) Bechukotai (my statutes) in the book of Leviticus, the third in the five Books of Moses. In Bechukotai, G-d exclaims “and I will walk among you.” This reminds me of the story of a man who had just died and went to heaven to review his life with G-d. G-d tells him that his life is shown as steps in the sand along the water of a beach. The man gets frustrated with G-d and says, “In all of the easy parts of my life there are two sets of footprints, yours and mine. But during the toughest parts of my life there is only one set of footprints. G-d, why were you not with me during the toughest times? Why during those times was I walking alone?” G-d answers, “It is true there is only one set of footprints during your darkest moments but those footsteps are my footsteps…for I was carrying you.”

During these uncertain and anxiety provoking times, may you have the faith to believe that G-d is and will carry us through these most difficult moments.

I hope you and your families enjoyed Lag B’Omer and I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom.

Light candles on Friday at 7:04pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 8:04pm.


Marty Haberer
President & Chief Executive Officer

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