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JCF Blog

A Subtle Journey Toward Transformation

Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 7/17/2017

I spent a week at the Ashram in California. The Ashram is an experience focused on hiking and yoga; it’s called the Ashram because we meditate as we hike. We began everyday at 6AM and hiked almost five hours in the Santa Monica hills. Ten of us spent five hours hiking up, rarely down and rarely flat. We spent hours each day practicing yoga, eating delicious organic food, playing in a pool, and sharing life with each other. This was our routine everyday for 7 days.

I was hoping for a transformation. I wanted to come home more spiritual, more connected and ready to commit everyday to a healthier lifestyle. Every day on the way to the top of a mountain that never quit, I felt ready to quit. I looked around and wondered where the helicopter would land to rescue me because I couldn’t take one step further.

Then I did, I took one step further and then another until I reached the top of the mountain.Everyday for the following 6 days I found the mental and physical strength to take one step further. In that moment I couldn’t have been aware that a true transformation was happening inside me.

As the Aim Chai Community Endowment Campaign comes to a close I can’t help but think about how it transformed our community and what that truly means. When we think of transformation perhaps we think about a completely different, unrecognizable change, or that the entity that was transformed was badly damaged in some way and could only survive with a major overhaul. When we think of transformation should it be obvious that something or someone is completely different or perhaps it’s more subtle than that.

When I think about the hundreds upon hundreds of conversations and illuminations that occurred during the Aim Chai campaign, I know that as a community we have changed. The agencies and synagogues, the donors and volunteers, the professionals and lay leaders have all learned that we are stronger, better,smarter and our community benefits when we work together. 

In an address by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Lord Sacks, he spoke of the difference between a contract and a covenant. In a contract each side is pursuing their own interests for a mutual benefit. In a covenant, each “respecting the dignity and integrity of the other come together in a bond of love and trust to do what neither can achieve alone”. A contract, he says, is a transaction.  A covenant is a relationship. A contract can benefit but a covenant can transform.

Our faith is built on covenants. Our community is also built on covenants. Aim Chai opened minds and hearts to the possibilities that together we transform. We might not see the transformation overnight, but we are transformed because we built relationships based on the generosity of our hearts and our commitments to each other and to future generations.

I was transformed on the top of the Santa Monica Hills. You might not know it to look at me, but inside I know I always have one more step I can take.

The Greater Hartford Jewish Community is transformed. We might not see it today in every moment, but years from now we will look back and understand that true transformation takes time; we just need to be on the journey together.

It has been an honor to share this journey with all of you and I’m grateful you have chosen to share it with all of us. 


Rise Roth is the VP, Philanthropy at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford

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FRED MOLOD
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ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING COMMENTS I HAVE SEEN IN SOME TIME. IN THIS AGE WHEN MANY ARE PROCLAIMING THE LOSS OF INTEREST IN OUR JUDAIC HERITAGE,WE FIND THIS POSITIVE COMMENT ABOUT THE POSITIVE CHANGES TAKING PLACE. NOT ONLY HAS THE AUTHOR BEEN TRANSFORMED, SHE HAS SIGNIFICANTLY AIDED AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY TRANSFORM.WOULD THAT THIS MESSAGE BE SENT ON A WIDER SCALE.
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