21 April 2023
This past Tuesday marked Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. At a time of increased antisemitism in our community and across the country, Yom HaShoah reminds us not only to commemorate those killed and honor the survivors, but also of our crucial responsibility to continue to confront and combat antisemitism. Learn more about Federation’s efforts to do so here, and join our partners at JCRC this Sunday, April 23rd, at 1:00 PM for a poignant and meaningful community Yom HaShoah tribute.
Next week, just after Yom HaShoah, Israel and Jews around the world will mark two important holidays – Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). The timing of these days of remembrance and then celebration is intentional in the calendar, moving us from Holocaust to independence, from destruction to rebirth. As Dr. Daniel Gordis, Koret, Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, recently noted, some ask if this idea is still possible today.
This year, Israel’s milestone 75th year of independence, the commemoration and celebration come amid significant challenges within Israeli society and between American Jewry and Israel. At Federation, the question we face and work towards is how to make sure that out of crisis, we experience rebirth and renewal.
This week, we recognize and celebrate the miracle of 75 years of Israel’s sovereignty and growth – a country and a sovereign people that is truly a story of rebirth and renewal. At the same time, we must understand and confront the challenges Israel is currently facing as we grapple with questions about the future of Israeli society and democracy, American Jewry’s role in Israel, and the role of Israel in shaping American Jewish identity. At Federation, we are dedicated to creating the space to both elevate and truly hear diverse voices and perspectives and through this process move from crisis to renewal.
We continue to work with incredible leaders, partners, and supporters to create opportunities for thoughtful conversations and meaningful engagement in honor of Israel at 75. We have proudly partnered with the Shalom Hartman Institute and our community’s dedicated leaders to guide our community forward; with synagogues across Greater Washington by investing $75,000 in new Israel programming and events; with Moment Magazine on our Israel at 75 Book Series; and with many local restaurants on Israel Food & Wine Week.
Over the next week, and through June of this year, there are a myriad of ways to be a part of Israel at 75. Join the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, Edlavitch JCC of Washington DC, and the Pozez JCC of Northern VA for their Israel at 75 celebrations, presented in partnership with Federation. I encourage you to visit our Israel at 75 website to find even more events that pique your curiosity as well as opportunities to learn, engage, and grow.
I am grateful to witness and be a part of a community of people committed to strengthening our connection with each other and Israel even as the nature of our relationship evolves.
During times of change, it is critical to remember core principles. For me, these are the recognition that we are one global Jewish people and that we have a responsibility to one other. With these principles in mind, I am convinced that we will move towards renewal and growth while confronting changes and challenges. Thank you for everything that you do to build our future and celebrate our collective successes.