By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
This year, Thanksgiving Day is coming as early in the year as the calendar permits. The holiday’s early arrival on November 22 is happenstance but the timing is fortuitous. Given the gravity of the events that the Jewish community and the broader society have experienced collectively over the past few weeks, the annual pause to set aside our labors, gather with our loved ones, and reflect on what we are thankful for could not be taking place at a more opportune time.
Looking back on recent events deepens my gratitude for family and community, the fruit of strong and enduring relationships. In good times and bad, we can count on family and community for caring words of support and for timely actions that comfort, empower, and move the needle in building a better world.
At the Seattle community vigil for Pittsburgh, the thousands of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, who came together at Temple De Hirsch Sinai to mourn, pray, and remember—and the many who viewed the live stream as well—drew strength and light from each other. That’s the power of family and community.
With deadly fires burning across California, destroying homes and throwing thousands of lives into chaos, we watch volunteers from all walks of life, including some who have lost their own homes to the flames, rush forward to rescue strangers and help the stricken. That’s the power of family and community.
When over 460 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, Jews in America and around the world expressed their solidarity. Those gestures meant a great deal to the people in the stricken communities. As Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog said in a letter to federations and other JAFI supporters, “The phone calls and emails expressing genuine concern and solidarity are a tremendous support in times of trauma.” And, Israeli victims of terror receive emergency humanitarian services, thanks to support from our generous donors and support from Jewish communities around the world. That’s the power of family and community.
Yet, let us also remember that generous, caring people affect our lives during quieter, “normal” times as well. Every day, through actions that most of us never see or hear about, people take small but meaningful steps to put Jewish values into practice, strengthen our Jewish community, and repair our world. Every PJ Library book delivered to an excited child; every scholarship enabling a young person to have a life-changing Jewish experience at camp, day school, or in Israel; every Jewish community dinner invitation given to a newcomer; every voice raised in Olympia for tzedakah (justice) advocating for Jewish values comes from big-hearted, generous people who work for the greater good, day in and day out. People like you, who generously support Federation’s work to strengthen Jewish life and ensure Jewish continuity by connecting people to community. Thank you for all that you do.
That’s the power of family and community, which we can all be thankful for.
On behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, I wish a happy and safe Thanksgiving to you and all of your loved ones.