I am writing to you from the airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I am currently hoping the weather in Chicago lets up and I can get back to San Diego tomorrow. I have spent the past three days learning with CEOs from Jewish organizations across the US, the UK and Israel. These leaders come from organizations large and small, and from every corner of the Jewish world: social services, Haredi education and marriage law reform, Jewish Family Services, JCC, Federation, social justice and more. I head back to San Diego enriched and inspired by my colleagues, all of whom work daily to repair the world.
Our visit here was bookended by two deeply meaningful experiences. The first took place in a lush green park downtown, packed with people of all ages and from many backgrounds and faiths. Greensboro’s Women of the Shoah unveiled a compelling, moving statue and interactive Holocaust Exhibit, “She Wouldn’t Take off Her Boots,” dedicated to the mothers of the Shoah. Greensboro is a city with perhaps 3500 Jews, and the park was standing room only, with more than 500 people listening to a personal message from Israeli President Herzog, learning about the Holocaust, and braving the crowds to get a glimpse of the statue. It was a beautiful, touching ceremony. We also had a powerful and informative Yom HaShoah program here in San Diego last weekend. How could anyone remain unmoved listening to my beautiful friend and survivor Fanny Krasner Leibovitz take the mic and sing Eli Eli?
On our last day together, we visited the International Civil Rights Museum and stood at the lunch counter where four young African American men, all college students, took the unthinkably brave step of sitting down and ordering coffee and pie. In doing so, they sparked a nationwide sit-in movement that forced the issue of desegregation into the national consciousness. Like at the Holocaust exhibit, many of the images at that museum were brutal. And many were not so far in the past.
As we prepared to disperse back to our everyday work and worries, we sat with all we had seen and learned. On the screen was a quote attributed to Reb Nachman of Breslav; “If you are not a better person today than you were yesterday, what need do you have for tomorrow?”
We need tomorrow. There is more work to be done. To care for and honor our survivors. To find new ways to help Jews in need. To build flourishing Jewish life in San Diego. To connect San Diegans to the global Jewish community.
As we prepare to travel with more than 200 members of our community to Israel on our CommUNITY Trip in just under two weeks, I am filled with gratitude for this and so many other opportunities that I have to continue to strive to be a better person, and to make our community and our world a better place.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat and a meaningful tomorrow,