Knead Challah, Advocate for Israel, Experience Jewish DC

Steve RakittI was speaking with my Mom the other day. She lives in Florida, and at 98 years old, lives in an independent living facility and does a crossword puzzle every day. When I asked how she was doing, she said, “I’m still here,” and proceeded to tell me – with sadness, about several others who had recently died, including one woman who was 109 years old. Growing old is the process of losing – sight, hearing, memory, spouse and friends. Surrounded by loss, however, my Mom remains focused on living.

Although it is called Chayei Sarah (“the life of Sarah”), this week’s parasha is actually about her death, the acquisition of a burial site for her by Abraham and his arrangement of a marriage for his son, Isaac.

In his grief for his lifelong partner, Abraham purchases a burial site from the Hittites in a cave named Machpelah (located by Muslim and Jewish tradition in the city of Hebron). It is the first purchase of real estate by a Jew in what is today Israel. Following the burial of Sarah, Abraham reaffirms her life by seeking a wife for their son, Isaac.

Her death prompted two key responses: the purchase of land and the perpetuation of the people. Both are critical for our survival as a Jewish community, made that much clearer to me during my visit to Israel last month. It is imperative that the land of Israel be secure and the Jewish people sustained. We have a clear role to play in the ongoing story of the Jews, and like Abraham in this week’s portion, we must reaffirm life by honoring our past, living active and engaged lives today and investing in our future.

Shabbat Shalom,

Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]


Challah Tots

Challah Tots
Knead the dough, braid the challah and enjoy a story. That’s what in store for toddlers and their families at Challah Tots, offering preschool-friendly challah making, activities and a PJ Library® story time in preparation for Shabbat at Whole Foods stores in MD, DC and VA. Click here for upcoming dates and locations.

Students for Israel
The Israel Engagement Fellowship recently welcomed its second class of students, teenagers who are passionate about the homeland and eager to learn how to stand up for Israel. During this six part seminar, fellows are taught how to promote Israel, be savvy consumers of media and information, gain presentation and social media skills and become leaders of Israel related programming. This joint program of The Federation and the JCRC sets the course for the next generation of Israel advocates who will positively impact the Israel perceptions of their peers in years to come.

Goodbye Israeli Friends
Yesterday concluded the meaningful visit of 12 Israeli young adults who shared a 10-day immersive experience of Jewish life in Greater Washington during The Federation’s Reverse Mifgash. Participant Ligal Elias sums up the power of this experience when he shared “As someone who left religious practice, lately I had a feeling that the future of Israel was debatable. But through this program, I got to see how Jews in Greater Washington are fighting to be Jewish, this made me see things differently. I am now hopeful for the future. I realize that being Jewish is an amazing thing and I want to make a change in Israel based on the things we learned during our trip.”

Thanks to this program, the bridge of understanding between our communities is deeper and stronger than ever before. It is a question as to who benefited the most from this experience.