After nearly 18 months, this election season is finally, finally over. Wow, what a ride. While our country is left somewhat battered and bruised by this year’s campaign, unlike most other modern presidential elections, this campaign was fairly unique in that it forced each of us to confront some basic questions and issues in our own lives (i.e., what challenges confronting our nation are most important to us? Do we approach the future pessimistically or optimistically? What is America’s place on the world’s stage? Are we pro-life or pro-choice? Is our outlook essentially exclusive versus inclusive? Who best should bear our communities’ tax burden, etc.?) Depending upon how each of us answers these questions dictates our preferences and our outlook in the future.
As we look into our own hearts as Americans, we are also defining and shaping our individual Judaism. No, I am not referring to our personal ritualistic observances, such as the frequency with which we attend shul, or our adherence to the laws of kashrut. I am speaking of a deep dive into our own souls.
Do we consider ourselves part of a greater community, with shared values, or are we lone wolves living our lives within our own four walls? Do we see a connection between ourselves and our families on one hand, and our brothers and sisters here in Atlantic and Cape Maycounties who are less fortunate and in need of a hand up? Do we empathize with the plight of those who have issues and challenges similar to those experienced by our bubbies and zaydies a century ago, or do we just walk on by, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear? How exactly are we manifesting our Jewishness in these times of spiritual and financial stress here in South Jersey?
I urge you, for the sake of those in our community who are in need, as well as for your own self-interest, to expand your focus and your lives. Think and act empathetically. Be gracious with your time, your spirit, and your intellectual gifts. Give a helping hand to those in need, and, when contacted by a representative of our Jewish Federation during this year’s annual campaign, and asked to make a meaningful gift that will enable our community to continue to support our seniors, our children, those in need, our college students, and our brothers and sisters in Israel, please be generous. Open your heart and soul. Your generosity will directly benefit others, as well as yourself.
To all of you, and to all you love, from all of us at Jewish Federation, a very Happy Thanksgiving!