A New Meaning For Shabbat: A Message From Our President & CEO

Shalom Chaverim,

Another Friday has rolled around and here we are still under a stay at home order. I must admit, I am a bit relieved, as I fear that going back too soon to life as it was would cause a possible escalation in this deadly disease. So, I continue to make the best of things from home.

It’s funny but I gauge my week by knowing that Shabbat is coming. Shabbat has always been a special time for me but somehow through this pandemic, it has had an elevated prominence in my mind and through my actions. I plan around Shabbat. Frank gets flowers. I gather my staff and say the blessings over the wine, challah, and candles each Friday afternoon at the end of our day. I don’t respond to my email. And, last week for the first time, I made challah. That was an experience! As believe it or not it was the first time I ever worked with yeast. Of course, my son Brett took the lead, finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients, and modeling what I should do. I never realized how long a process it is from start to finish. I have a new appreciation for those who do this each week. It’s not easy but is certainly a labor of love.

So, my first challah was good but not great. It wasn’t as light or sweet as many that I have tried. It didn’t pull apart the way fresh challah does along the braided indentations in the bread.  But it was good for a first attempt especially when toasted with butter. Funny thing, when I shared a picture of my challah with my newly married daughter, Cara, in Chicago, she sent me a picture of the one she baked – her first as well. So we have a new family tradition now. Shabbat routine. I am determined to find just the right recipe. So, if any of you have one, please share! Being the perfectionist that I am, I will continue to search until I find the exact one that I love and it will become a new pleasure that I add to my Shabbat routine.

This was a week of ups and downs as far as emotions go. The Yoms – Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atmaut- were observed this week. On Tuesday, we remembered those who fell in defense of Israel or were victims of terror and Wednesday we celebrated Israel’s 72nd birthday. The juxtaposition of these two days next to each other has always fascinated me. Going from commemoration to celebration in the span of 24 hours really highlights how we as a Jewish people are resilient and strong. Our days may feel dark right now but we know that there will be days of light around the corner.

Wishing you all a meaningful Shabbat. Spend your time in rest and reflection. Count all the blessings you have in your life. Be grateful for your health, your family, your friends, and your ability to give back to others through your talent, treasures, and time. We, as a Jewish people, have survived thousands of years through many uplifting and joyous occasions as well as profound tragedies and sadness. We will get through this crisis as well. Please know that you have the gift of Shabbat every week. Make it special in your home. Bake a challah. Rejoice in the blessing of this sacred day.

In closing, as I celebrate today my 4th year anniversary at the Federation, I want to thank all of you for making this a rich and meaningful experience. I’ve enjoyed your emails, calls, notes, and thoughtfulness and just getting to know so many of you. I look forward to the many years ahead of us and to brighter times in the future. We will get through this together.

Shabbat Shalom,