Building an Interdependent Community

Building an Interdependent Community

This Monday marks 22 years since the attacks of 9/11. May the memories of those we lost continue to be for a blessing and may those who loved them find comfort and solace. If you or a loved one need support on this tragic anniversary or at any time, 703-J-CARING: the Jewish Community Support Line (703-522-7464) is here for you.


I’ve often written about the power of community and the incredible things we can achieve when we work together. But the ideals that underpin a strong, vibrant community go beyond our ability to respond collectively to global crises or build new communal initiatives.

As Jennifer Breheny Wallace, author of Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic — and What We Can Do About It, discussed in a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, we need to focus on the power and impact of interdependence and not independence. We live in a world where few of life’s challenges are addressed by a person on their own. Our ability both to seek help and be helpers is critical to our success and health.

In Judaism, this idea is recognized and embraced through the concept of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh (all of Israel are responsible for one another). In a world where the emphasis is often on independence, how do we build a community of interdependence and mutual responsibility?

In order to build a tightly woven community where people can depend on each other, it’s critical to create opportunities to build and deepen relationships. As those relationships evolve over time, trust is established and confidence is developed, breaking down the barriers that may have previously held us back from asking for or offering support.

This is true for people across all life stages, perhaps especially for families with young children. That’s why, while some Federation-funded initiatives help families transmit Jewish values to their children, these efforts are also focused on developing relationships between parents that enable them to support one another through transitions and challenges. We know that these friendships and bonds last a lifetime. Moreover, these relationships not only connect parents, but simultaneously build community.

To the same end, Federation is also investing in teen peer-to-peer training and mentorship programs to address the growing mental health crisis. Research shows teens rely on their peers for help during difficult situations, and this program will help create the groundwork for teens to build critical skills in effectively responding to a friend in need.

Together, by appreciating our interdependence and building deep relationships and a strong community, we can ensure not only that those around us receive help when they need it, but that we all have somewhere to turn and someone to rely on in our time of need, both small and large. 

Thank you for everything you do to support each other and our community.

Shabbat Shalom,