It is challenging to write a message including thoughts about what happened in Pittsburgh, when I know this will not reach everyone until the beginning of December. And yet, there are some things I want to share with our community.
The week prior to the tragedy in the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, we were in Israel for the General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). It was a joyful time for Israelis and North American Jews, and Jews from all over the world to be together. The conference brought together Jewish people from all of our religious streams, to discuss issues that concern all of us today.
The events of Shabbat on October 27 stand in such stark contrast to the GA! Another 11 names added to the memorial, reminding us of the impact of anti-Semitism on our Jewish people.
With Hanukkah on the horizon (first candle on December 2), it is important to see howmuch-neededd light was shed upon the Pittsburgh Jewish community:
*The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh within five days of the shooting donated over $140,000 to the Jewish Federation.
*United Airlines provided free travel to anyone traveling to Pittsburgh for the funerals.
*An anonymous corporation donated $1 million to aid the families of the victims and to help with future security needs.
*The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Jewish Agency, dispatched the Israeli Trauma Coalition to Pittsburgh in the hours after Shabbat ended in Israel.
*Chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency traveled to Pittsburgh.
*The Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team raised money for the Jewish community.
*United Way of Pittsburgh has worked in full cooperation with the Jewish Federation, JCC, JFCS and synagogues.
*And, virtually every city in North America held solidarity vigils. In Jacksonville, we saw more than 1000 people gather at The Temple for our important event.
In Jacksonville, we are blessed with outstanding synagogues and agencies. We respect one another and work extremely well together. The volunteer and professional leadership, and our rabbis, never take this for granted.
On December 31, Myron Flagler will step down as the executive director of the JCA following 20 years of service. It has been a privilege to work with Myron. His contribution to the quality of life here in Jacksonville will always be appreciated.
It might seem a cliché to ask everyone to remember, as we light the candles on our Hanukkah menorahs, to count our blessings and appreciate anew how lucky we are to live in this wonderful community. Going forward, we will continue to do all we can to make our community a better place in which to live for all people.
I hope this Hanukkah will be a happy time for everyone.