The value of loving kindness guides Federation's work

Ahavat Chesed—loving kindness is a value that guides Jewish Federation efforts. A community volunteer leader told me this week how they had to remind a community member that “Jewish Federation” isn’t a faceless organization. There are many involved and represent the Federation. I personally can attest, every volunteer shows great care and compassion for our community and programs. Everyone who has given their time and energy to ensure that our community is connected and represented does so with good intentions. We are so fortunate to have people who truly care about our community, the issues we face and tackle together, and do so with loving kindness.  

Loving kindness was evident this past week when the Integrated Bursary Program committee completed its review of applicants and appeals. The intention of the program is to provide access to Jewish life in a dignified manner while supporting the most vulnerable in our community. The committee has the best intentions to ensure that these donor dollars are going to those with most demonstrated need, with compassion and care. We have approved 40 families for support with Camp BB Riback, Talmud Torah School, and BBYO programming.  

Jewish Federations of North America leadership showed loving kindness when visiting with victims of terror. They also provided financial support from the Victims of Terror Fund to individuals directly affected. We emailed you with an update earlier this week about the situation in Israel, and wish a refuah shlemah to our brothers and sisters in Tel Aviv who were affected and continue to recover, both physically and mentally.  

Loving kindness also guides our relationship with Israel, whether in concern for safety and security of its inhabitants, or in advocacy and outreach to share our relationship to the land and its people. We continue to hold conversations with school principals, the Edmonton Public School Board, and elected officials. The Federation is actively working on a return of the Israel Pavilion to Heritage Festival, (along with new features). This festival provides an opportunity to take pride in our homeland and share this with the greater community. You have a chance to be part of meaningful and fun opportunities and help showcase this jewel in our crown of programs. We still need volunteers to support this important event.

This article, We wanna dance with somebody…who loves us, by Daniel Gordis struck me this week. It reminds us how the Zionist movement being, at its core, about the love of Israel. I hope that no matter which side of the current divide you are on, that your conversations about Israel are approached with the loving kindness he reminds us of below:  

“But here’s the rub…People don’t fall in love with other people by trying to change them. If they seek to help that other person grow, it is because they already love them. It’s the same with countries. We become involved patriots, even if alarmed patriots, and work to make our countries better, only if we already love our country. If we don’t, then protests become nothing more than opportunities to pillage and steal—think Seattle and Portland. No one protested there out of love of anything at all.”

My friends and I—on both sides of the divide—are as engaged as we are because we love this country, its vision for the Jewish people, and what Jewish sovereignty has done for Jewish peoplehood. We’re on the both sides of the streets because we’re Zionists. I don’t know a single person going to the protests who hopes that protesting might lead them to love this country. No one I know enjoys the protests. Everyone I know is sick of them. No one I know is sure that their “side” is going to “win.” 

However, we’re out there because we might come to love Israel, but because we already do. We protest because our hearts are breaking and we want to save something, not because we think protesting anything will help them heal.