The Power of Community

This past week, our nation suffered yet another series of heinous acts of hatred and violence. Rather than become desensitized to the terror of a never-ending cycle of senseless deaths, we must focus on doing what we do best: building and sustaining community that brings people together. The Jewish people are no strangers to hatred and the horror of violence directed at us because of who we are. It is precisely because of this that we offer our comfort and assistance as well as our outrage and determination to change the course of the future.

We are heartbroken by the horror of this hateful violence and sickened by the depths to which some human behavior has fallen. Our answer is not only to stand and speak, but to continue to advance community – the essential role of Jewish Federations – because only when we are a part of a productive and inclusive community can people fully realize the sacred potential in each individual. Helping others is the path to healing and comfort. And it is an end unto itself.

Jewish Federations have always been there to help in any situation of need, whether it is to dispel poverty, provide assistance or support victims of disasters – both natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, and the manmade disasters like those we are seeing today. Our local programs serve the entire community; we do not turn away anyone in need, regardless of background or national origin. Our trauma services are on the ground providing vital emotional and procedural support to people in distress. Our Secure Community Network (SCN) provides an invaluable service to the institutions, agencies and programs of the Jewish community, and works in collaboration with local and federal law enforcement and other organizations to help communities become more prepared, as developing crisis procedures can prevent or at least mitigate the severity of attacks. We are helping to make communities less vulnerable and more intuitive. This saves lives.

As we commemorate Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, we remember the darkest tragedies of our history. Even the calendar is reminding us that we are commanded to abolish this form of destruction from our midst. We each play a role in improving our community and our country. While we may not agree on every issue, we are resolute in our sacred task of repairing the broken fragments of our world and restoring the peace of our community.

May the memories of all those who were massacred be a blessing to their grieving families and friends, and to all of us who mourn with them. May these heinous deeds move us to act with determination so that no family need suffer this horror again.

Shabbat Shalom.

Mark Wilf is the Chair of the Board of Trustees and Eric D. Fingerhut is the President and CEO.