CEO's Monthly Message
Tomorrow night, Jews all of the world will gather around seder tables to commemorate the exodus from Egypt. The singing of "Dayenu" or "It would Have Been Enough" is a festive highlight at most seders. This year, as we sing at my family's seder table, I know I will have a different thought in the back of my head: "Are we really doing enough, now? As a community should we be doing more?"
As difficult as the question is, and as uncomfortable or weary as it may make us, the simple answer is that we can do more. As long as there are Jews whose safety is at risk because they chose not to take down their mezuzah, or kids who can't build Jewish identity at summer camp because the cost is simply beyond their parents' means, or seniors who sit at home, in need of company and care, our work is not done. Oftentimes, facing these realities is a sobering experience, because one can easily be overcome by a feeling that our work will never be done. But the truth of the matter is, that success breeds further success, and that while the path to our ultimate goals is long, we should take pride in each accomplishment and each milestone achieved.
A perfect example of this is the successful first meeting of UJF's Advisory Council, which took place on Tuesday. The group focused on the challenges facing our post-b'nai mitzvah youth: keeping Jewish kids engaged, preparing them for potential anti-Israel hostility on college campuses, teaching them the truths about Israel, and providing them opportunities to learn. Believe me, the group did not solve these problems in one meeting, nor are we likely to solve them in ten. But I am proud to say that through collaborative discussion, recognizing that as a community we are not doing enough, ideas were discussed as to how we can start doing more, together. Different agencies, working in concert, agreed to spearhead research on different potential projects. I look forward to reporting on progress in the coming months.
I hope that the spirit of renewal that makes Passover so special, gives each and every one of us the confidence that we can do more and the strength to achieve more. On behalf of my family and my colleagues at UJF, I wish you a sweet and meaningful Passover.
James A. Cohen