Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of being in Framingham at the Jewish Family Services office. My friend and colleague Lino Covarrubias had invited me to join Senate President Karen Spilka and Rabbi Sam Blumberg of Temple Beth Am, to re-install the mezuzah on JFS’ door. While this mezuzah has been with JFS for decades, the front entry had recently been ‘hardened’ – thanks to funding provided by the MA Nonprofit Security Grant program; a program for which we at JCRC have been proud to lead the advocacy since its inception as a pilot in 2018.
These grants won’t, on their own, end hate and vulnerability here in Massachusetts. But they do represent a very basic commitment by our government to ensure that even amidst rising hate, targeted communities should not lose our freedoms – to gather together, to be visible, and to do the work of building community and contributing to society. JFS does essential work everyday meeting human needs for so many people, and I’m proud that our efforts at JCRC contribute to their continued work.
Thanks to the leadership of the Senate President, as well as many other key leaders in the State House, including Representative Ruth Balser and former Senator Eric Lesser, over the past five years we’ve leveraged millions of dollars for Jewish institutions and other vulnerable communities amidst rising hate. And it was a pleasure to join Senate President Spilka in her district to celebrate one more way in which the Legislature’s support enables our community to live proudly and give back to Boston, inspired by our Jewish values.
Coming up next week, you can check out the Boston Israeli Film Festival which will feature a film about which I am particularly excited. From March 26-29, you can screen A Narrow Bridge, profiling four individuals—two men and two women, from Israeli and Palestinian families—who have lost a child or parent in the conflict. When the festival planners approached me to ask if we would be interested in promoting this film, I watched the trailer and my immediate reaction was “Oh, I know Bassam and Rami! We’ve hosted them in Boston, and we just saw them last summer with our Christian leaders in Jerusalem!” And many of you have heard them, as well as Rabi, also featured here, on one of our speaker series zooms in recent years.
They come together through the Parents Circle – Families Forum, an organization familiar to some of you, and beloved by us at JCRC, as part of our work through Boston Partners for Peace. Sitting down with them on our study tours, hearing their trauma and their narratives, and witnessing the power of ‘a radical, holy response to human suffering’ is always meaningful for us.
I invite you to experience this inspiring film during the festival, and then stick around for a pre-recorded Q&A that I had the privilege to moderate with Writer/Director/Producer Esther Takac and the Reverend Steve Watson, Senior Pastor of the Reservoir Church here in Cambridge, MA – a participant in our 2022 tour. Tickets are on sale now.
Working with Jewish Family Services and with the Boston Jewish Film Festival in recent days has been a reminder to me, yet again, that ours is a deep network of social, cultural, religious, educational, service and advocacy groups, that together define the fabric of our Boston Jewish community. Through our network, we’re building a strong, deeply connected Jewish community that can lift each other up, be encouraged by each other, and help each other in our shared work of living vibrant Jewish lives and giving back to civic society. Together, we can be inspired by the many people who are working to build a more hopeful future for us, for our neighbors here in Boston, and for Israelis and Palestinians.
Thank you for being part of this work with us.