Five years ago this week I moved to Boston with confidence in my belief in three things: 1) That an unapologetic Mets fan could make common cause with Red Sox fans in our disdain for the Yankees. 2) That a New Yorker who roots against football teams from New Jersey would fit right in to Patriots Nation, and 3) That any Jewish communal professional would be lucky to have the opportunity to work with the amazing, dedicated, passionate and skillful volunteers that I had met at JCRC while interviewing.
Five years later I find my confidence well placed, and am proud of what we, the professionals and the volunteers of JCRC and this community have been able to achieve, when we’ve worked together.
We’ve been challenged and we’ve stood together in difficult times including two conflicts in Gaza. We’ve brought the community together in sadness and in celebration. We’ve navigated complex issues and found our unique voice, in the debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and in our vocal support of our vision for our nation continuing to welcome immigrants and refugees. We’ve come together with our interfaith partners, Boston Strong after the marathon. We’ve worked with Christian and Muslim partners to reject hatred, intolerance, and divisive political rhetoric in this crazy election year.
We’ve focused our work and are growing in all three of JCRC’s priority areas:
We come together in service to ourselves and others - with our first MLK day of service for families this year and another day come this Veteran’s Day. We’ve added six new partners for teen service this Fall and our 10th disaster response trip this summer.
We’ve taken dozens of Christian clergy, community leaders, and one-quarter of the Massachusetts legislature – including both the Senate President and House Speaker – to engage with Israel through their own eyes. This week we announced the launch of a new initiative to engage the Boston Jewish community in support for efforts on the ground in Israel that maintain and expand the potential for a two-state solution.
Our Jewish community can be proud that we’ve played a critical advocacy role in passing groundbreaking gun violence prevention legislation, a transgender public accommodations bill, and equal pay for women. We’ve organized with GBIO for criminal justice reform and to help the formerly incarcerated get back to work. We’ve secured government funding to help people with disabilities train for workplace readiness and to have the dignity that comes with a job. And our legislature unanimously supported the MA-Israel relationship and rejected BDS last Fall.
None of this – our ability to define and advance a strong Jewish vision in Boston’s civic public square - would have been possible without great professionals, amazing volunteers, a strong network of agencies, and committed supporters.
Sure, there have been some bumps along the way and some things we’d do differently given a second chance. And there are some causes we haven’t won – yet.
But last night we came together, again, to celebrate our community; to honor what is possible when we work together and stand together. We celebrate – every day – our resiliency and common values and our commitment to each other even amidst heated political discourse and the sometimes-painful moments and amidst those whose efforts would splinter a weaker community than ours.
We’re going to need to draw on that resiliency and our common values even more in the coming years; because the negativity and divisiveness isn’t going to magically disappear on November 8th.
But for now, as we celebrated our achievements and I look back at my first five years in Boston, all I have is gratitude for all of you who help us achieve great things every day.
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom,