In the sacred Mishna it is taught that Rabbi Tarfon used to say: “Ours is not to complete the task, nor are we free to desist from it.”
This past Monday night, we gathered for With Gratitude: An Evening of Volunteer Appreciation, an inspiring night to thank our dedicated volunteer leaders for their boundless commitment to JCRC and our community. We celebrated the successes of our outgoing board and welcomed a new board Chair, Officers, and Board and Council members, each of whom brings unique expertise to our mission. Our newest Past President, Jill Goldenberg, gave a moving speech that circled back to the values and impact she hoped to impart to our organization when she took office two years ago.
In recognizing the enduring contributions of Jill and our other volunteers, I reflected on the powerful relationship between volunteer leaders and professionals. The relationship we build, in service to common goals can, at its best be deep and meaningful. We talk about our passions, values, and concerns for community and humanity. We support and challenge each other to become better leaders. We struggle together to face and address current challenges while building a vision for our collective future. And, at our best, we openly acknowledge the tension and differing opinions necessary to advance a collective agenda, one that is truly representative of our diverse community.
Jill came to our presidency with a clarity about the importance of engaging volunteers and developing stakeholders if we were going to achieve a shared vision for JCRC’s future that the Board was creating. Under her leadership JCRC tackled many tough and challenging moments in the life of our community, whether supporting Israel under fire, playing a critical role in advancing gun violence legislation, or managing changing key relationships on Beacon Hill - all of this as we committed to taking full responsibility for our destiny as an organization – with the support of an ever growing group of stakeholders.
Our new Board President Adam Suttin, elected this past Monday, brings his own style and passion to our shared goals, and our commitment to JCRC’s role in the Jewish community and the public square. Together, we will bring an enhanced focus to our advocacy for important issues ranging from gun violence prevention to disability inclusion. We will continue to expose the Commonwealth’s legislative and religious leadership to the wonders and opportunities of Israel, and we will work to expand opportunities for our community to provide volunteer service that enrich the life of our Commonwealth and connect us to all its residents.
No one leader takes on the task of this work thinking that he or she will complete the task of building a strong, effective advocacy voice on behalf of our community. But what makes our leaders wonderful and treasured by us is that they do not desist from the challenges of building our organizations and our community and then passing the torch to the next leadership team.
For JCRC we have achieved extraordinary things in partnership between volunteers and professionals these past few years, but there is much left to be done. It is the leadership we have and continue to receive from our volunteers that makes me confident that we are up to the task and for that I am deeply grateful every single day.