05 August 2022
A few days ago, as I sat in back-to-back Zoom meetings, a colleague stopped by my office to ask if I needed lunch. The moment has stuck with me ever since; an example of how small, unexpected moments of kindness can shift one’s entire demeanor. The thought feels especially relevant with the approach of Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning, when we grieve the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and subsequent tragedies caused by baseless hatred.
As the global Jewish community comes together for this day of mourning, I find myself thinking more and more about the hope, kindness, and optimism we need to sustain ourselves and grow as individuals and as a community. I believe it is through acts of caring and kindness that we can not only rebuild from our losses, but continue to build a vibrant future.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z”l, wrote, “Jews are the people who refused to be comforted because they never gave up hope. All the evidence may suggest otherwise: it may seem to signify irretrievable loss, a decree of history that cannot be overturned, a fate that must be accepted. Jews never believed the evidence because they had something else to set against it – a faith, a trust, an unbreakable hope that proved stronger than historical inevitability. It is not too much to say that Jewish survival was sustained in that hope.”
The past few years have been marked by incredible challenges: senseless hatred and violence, senseless death and deprivation, and senseless wars. So how, like our ancestors, might we strengthen our individual and collective hope to balance and overcome negativity and hatred? How do we move forward in the face of so many seemingly inevitable challenges?
The past few years have taught me that one way to do so is by not underestimating the power of compassion, and that it’s not always the grand gestures that make the biggest difference. The seemingly small, random acts of caring and kindness or words of encouragement can build community, build or deepen our connections, and give someone strength. We may not even realize the true value of our efforts, but each of us has the ability to make an enormous impact on those around us by looking outside of ourselves.
As we continue to build a vibrant Jewish community and a strong and healthy society, our success will be marked by the ways in which we lead with kindness, caring, and gratitude – not just when we need it most, but every day. While baseless hatred can destroy, kindness and caring can build.
Thank you, as always, for all that you do for one another, for our community, and for those in need around the world. Thank you for sustaining our unbreakable hope.
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