By Aaron Rosenfeld, JD
Chief Executive Officer of the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC
As a Jewish Community Center, caring for, sustaining, and bringing together the community is at the heart of what we do. As a community, we support and respect one another. No matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, the events of last week were disturbing, unsettling, and we all can agree, tore at the fabric of our democracy. Violence is never the answer and must always be condemned.
Each and every day we, as a community, care for those in need. Most importantly, we live our lives governed by our Jewish values of tzedakah (charity) and chesed (kindness). In these moments, I am reminded and guided by our great sages Hillel and Shamai and their followers who disagreed on many things including the very basic laws of Jewish practice. Yet it is shared that not only did they have the utmost love and respect for one another but as we are currently guided to follow the laws mostly as interpreted by Bais Hillel (house of Hillel), we will follow the interpretations of Bais Shamai (house of Shamai) ultimately with the arrival of the Moshiach (messiah). As well, it is firmly embedded in our Jewish tradition and values that we are to respect one another because we are all created in the image of G-d (B’Tzelem Elokim).
Now more than ever, we must model this practice of respect for those with whom we disagree. We must lead by example for our children, grandchildren, and the rest of our country. We do not have to agree but we must respect every human being. Our greatest sages have prepared us for these trying moments and our Jewish religion has embedded these important values into our core.
This has been a year of many “firsts” that we would have rather not witnessed or experienced. My hope is that the coming calendar year is filled with many other “firsts” like all of us receiving a Covid vaccine, welcoming our seniors back on site and out of isolation, the sound of the hustle and bustle of more than 1 pod at a time and parents at our early childhood center, the return of intergenerational activities, being able to look at each other in public without the obstruction of a mask, celebrating together in person, using Zoom out of desire and not necessity, being there in person at times of loss, having dinner with parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, going on vacation out of state/country, turning on the news and listening to 30 minutes of positive stories, and no news about politics.
May this calendar year be one of health, happiness, kindness, respect, and hope for all!