Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
Just one week ago we celebrated the holiday of Lag Ba’Omer. Literally taking a break from the air of mourning during the counting of the 50 days that began the second night of Passover and concluding with the holiday of Shavuot, celebrating the receiving of the Torah. Lag Ba’Omer literally translates to the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. Tradition teaches us that Rabbi Akiva’s disciples ceased suffering from the plague that had killed 24,000 of them earlier on Lag Ba’Omer. We also recognize the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi, a massive figure from the Talmud. By now, most of you know of the horrible tragedy that occurred in Israel last week in Meron where 45 people were trampled and died and over 150 others were injured due to overcrowding at a traditional, celebratory bonfire. I hope you were able to take a moment of silence (whether in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel’s virtual event or simply by yourself) in solidarity with those who were affected.
I have recently shared with you the incredible and rapid growth of our local involvement with JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet. If our four recent nominees are accepted into the program, we will have 18 members, the largest of any intermediate sized Federation in North America. 146 Federations strong. To qualify to be on Cabinet one must apply while being between the ages of 30-40. But there is much work to be done that begins with our young adults as they hit 20 in order to ready them to get to Cabinet status at age 30+. Last year, Phoenix was well represented in the inaugural JFNA Jewish Changemakers Fellowship summer programs. For this coming summer, the Jewish Changemakers Fellowship application launched this week! It offers an opportunity for young adults (20-24) to embark on their leadership journey. As a 2020 Changemaker fellow shared, “my family has always been involved with Federation, but Changemakers gave me my own opportunity to lead—and it was amazing.” Please share this opportunity with those who may be interested. Sessions run in June (7-24) and July (12-29).
This week’s double Torah portion is Behar (On the Mountain) and Bechukotai (Statutes) in the book of Leviticus, the third of the five books of Moses. In it, G-d pledges to never abandon his chosen people proclaiming “even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break my covenant with them; for I am the L-rd their G-d.”
This past week, what should have been a joyous day on our Jewish calendar turned tragic. I hope you had a moment to honor the memories of those we lost and to pray for the complete recovery of those who were injured.
And even at these dark and terrible moments that sometimes do rear their ugliness in our lives, we are comforted in the knowledge that there is a next generation coming behind us with a powerful commitment to maintaining their Jewish identity and strengthening our Jewish community.
Light candles Friday evening at 6:58pm
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 7:57pm
President & Chief Executive Officer
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