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JCF Blog

Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 10/7/2019

The most often-stated commandment in the Torah is, "You shall not wrong or oppress the stranger,for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). In repeating variations of this verse 36 times, our Torah demonstrates to us – and to the outside world -- that inclusiveness and kindness toward the stranger is a central norm of the Jewish people.

While this law references the Israelites’ experience in Egypt, it has grown exponentially relevant to the Jewish people today. With all the persecution we have suffered through 2,000 years in exile, it is no coincidence that Jewish communities are doubly sensitive to the plight of those who are similarly now “strangers” – be they refugees, immigrants or minorities – and are often at the forefront of efforts to champion their cause.

This summer, I had the privilege of participating in “Praying With Our Feet,” an interfaith gathering of education, conversation and action that raised awareness about the plight of refugees and immigrants in our community and provided concrete opportunities for people to be a part of the solution. It was tremendously heartening to see the rabbinic leadership of B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom and Charter Oak Cultural Center among the lead speakers and organizers, the Mandell JCC and Congregation Beth Israel among the sponsors, and a large number of Jews from all walks of our community among its participants.

And it’s been so encouraging to witness our rabbinic and organizational leaders speaking publicly about the need to assist these vulnerable populations and backing up their words through a variety of programs. Among these efforts is the Mandell JCC’s “Under One Roof” project, featuring works of art submitted by 45 community organizations, representing their diverse expressions of what it means to “welcome the stranger” (October 6-November 15).

Kol Hakavod (all the respect) to all our leaders – and to our community members of all ages and backgrounds – who have stood up for the stranger and demonstrated that living our Torah values is very much alive. This Yom Kippur, a day on which our sages tell us that G_d displayed abundant mercy by forgiving the Israelites for their sin of thegolden calf, may we pray for the strength to continue showing empathy for beleaguered populations through acts of tzedakah (charity) and chesed (loving kindness).

Wishing you a meaningful Yom Kippur and a year full of love, health and peace,

Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 10/5/2019
We recently celebrated and thanked donors during a reception at Beth El Temple. More than 160 donors and guests enjoyed live music, delicious desserts, and a chance to connect over their shared vision and impact for Jewish Community. It was a privilege to be among so many passionate supporters!