By Jenn Ross
I frequently quote and reflect upon this guidance from Pirkei Avot 2:21: “It is not on you to complete the work; neither are you free to desist from it.” Being the leader of a Federation integrated with a JCC and running a Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) can be overwhelming – especially in these troubling times where it seems that Jews face one crisis after another.
On February 1, Amnesty International UK (Amnesty UK) released a report, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians,” alleging a number of falsehoods against Israel and attempting to delegitimize its existence.
The report attacks Israel’s right to exist. According to Amnesty UK, for Israel to cease being an “apartheid state”, it would have to strip itself of its Jewish character, ending its existence as the sole Jewish state. This report is likely to cause an upsurge in anti-Israel and antisemitic incidents across numerous spheres of life.
This attack on Israel is unacceptable – which is why we took action by joining 172 Federations and JCRCs urging United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to ensure the UN does not misuse a one-sided Amnesty UK report on Israel, particularly in the context of the disturbing, open-ended United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry into Israel. We proudly supported and promoted this petition, which was ultimately signed by 470 Jewish institutions and over 4,000 individual signees. Thank you if you were among them.
I appreciate and value our national network of Jewish Federations of North America for their leadership on numerous initiatives. In this case, they provided sensibility, facts, and a platform to amplify our voice in protest to this injustice. With antisemitism on the rise, JFNA and other partners have been a cornerstone in our efforts to provide programming that brings together our community, education and coordination in securing our community, and sparking a sense of Jewish identity and pride in our community members.
In challenging times, I am also inspired by Anne Frank, z”l, who wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
I am excited and energized by the positive things that await us, particularly the new opportunities at our future Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life. I am thankful for Abby Smith’s vision for the Grass Campus and for her work and the involvement of numerous lay leaders in our community moving this forward. I look forward to working with everyone involved.
Watch for updates about this on our website www.jewishharrisburg.org and in future editions of Community Review. You can contact GrassCampus@jewishfedhbg.org for more information on how to volunteer to help. I can personally be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-236-9555 x3104.