Yom Kippur marks the end of the Days of Awe, ten days of deep introspection in which we consider our accomplishments and ways to improve ourselves as individuals and as a community. It was also on this holy day 41 years ago that Israel was attacked from all sides by enemies who sought to destroy the center of our existence as a people and a nation.
For those who remember the Yom Kippur War, it was a time of intense fear, but also of great unity and collaboration. With Israel’s survival threatened and losses mounting, American Jews came together as never before to raise funds, lobby Congress and the White House and build support for the beleaguered Israel among the general public.
As this and other times of trouble have shown, we perform well under adversity. But it isn't only in crises that our dynamic mosaic of congregations and communal organizations demonstrates a remarkable unity and selfless drive to strengthen and enhance our community.
And in that regard, I'd like to ask a small favor.
Our Communal Partners toil daily to make our community thrive. Our two Jewish day schools are flourishing, constantly working to provide cutting edge Jewish and general education and experiential learning opportunities to our children. Our JCC is a nationally recognized flagship model of Jewish engagement, serving thousands of people who come through its doors each week. Our BJE continues its outreach and partnership work to provide an exciting mix of Jewish experiences to attract, engage and retain the next generation. And together with Hillel Foundation of Orange County, we are strengthening the Jewish experience on our college campuses, providing outstanding Jewish education, advocacy and engagement to our students.
This is hardly nine-to-five work. My colleagues in this community, the professional staff, rabbis, and educators, work long, long days and countless weekends. They are available around the clock, and I can tell you from experience that discussions and email exchanges often take place at the oddest of hours. Concerns for the welfare of you and your family can even keep us awake at night.
In addition, our extraordinary lay leadership is the fuel that makes our incredible engine run. Our lay leaders are constantly searching for new and innovative opportunities to grow our community and to assist people where help is needed most. We are blessed with leaders who are deeply invested in our community and in whom we take great pride.
So what’s the favor? This holiday season, when you see your community professionals and lay leaders, take a moment to reflect on their contributions to this community. Thank them, shake their hand, or even give them a hug, and remember that they are the reason behind the vibrancy of this great community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues and to reaffirm our dedication to serving our community. Let us reassert our commitment to support those in need. Let us strive to provide even richer spiritual, educational, philanthropic and social opportunities to anyone who seeks to deepen their Jewish identity. Let us redouble our efforts to welcome and inspire those who have thus far not found their place within our community. And let us rekindle and strengthen our connection to Israel.
Together, we can and will do all this and more.
Best wishes for a g’mar chatimah tovah. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
Shalom C. Elcott
President & CEO
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