Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
What an intense couple of weeks it has been. While we were still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey and all the damage that was done in Central Texas, we watched in horror as Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean Islands, Cuba and Florida. And as if that wasn't enough, Monday was the anniversary of the tragedy that occurred 16 years ago on September 11.
As I read through so many Facebook postings about these events, I realized that two schools of thought emerged: One was how awful things are and how little we have learned; the other recognized the indelible power of the human spirit-that we shall and do overcome. I choose the second approach.
I believe each time we persevere, not only do we become stronger, but also more humble, as we choose to make gratitude part of our daily lives.
As all this was going on around us, I experienced literally 15 minutes that put everything in perspective for me this past Sunday. I was invited to speak before a room full of more than 25 high school students who were participating in a Jewish Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Retreat. What a gift to stand before these young people who are committing their own money and discussing the most efficacious ways to use that tzedakah to improve the world, both locally and in Israel. In speaking with them, I was again reminded that it is the power of the Nefesh Yehudi (Jewish spirit) and the desire to help and to be responsible for each other that makes us special and a light unto nations.
This week's double Torah portion is Nitzavim-Vayelech (You are standing-And Moses went) in Deuteronomy. It speaks of the unity of the Jewish people, "You stand today, all of you, before the Lord your G-d." And we do. During hurricanes, we stand together and help one another. Together we mourn our losses every September 11.
Together, we can change the world. And it is our children, our young people, who remind us of the beauty of our Torah, our traditions and the strength of our Jewish future.
May we all go from strength to strength.