On Wednesday June 5th  JCRC celebrated our volunteer leadership at our Annual Meeting at the Moakley Courthouse. Over 270 leaders from across our 40 member organizations and the community were in attendance to celebrate with us. Here is an excerpt from my Director’s report:

It is fitting that we have chosen this space as our home this evening, not only because it represents the public square where we do so much of our work, but also because we are a people of laws.

 The place where we first received our law was far more modest, and long before we built any grand structures of our own. It was in the desert when we were a fledgling nation, seeking a new identity as a free people. the Torah describes that scene with epic drama as the nation gathered at Mount Sinai under a sky filled with thunder and lightning.

But there is an earlier scene in the same parsha, a quieter one, with only two players.

We read in Exodus about the days after the departure from Egypt and on the way to Mount Sinai when Moses served the people from morning till evening. His father-in-law Jethro saw the monumental challenges ahead, and he asked:

“What is this thing that you are doing? Why do you act alone?”

Moses responded by explaining his central role as the interpreter and arbiter of laws and teachings.

But Jethro cautions:

“What you are doing will wear you out. You cannot do it alone.”

And he offered counsel: Seek out trustworthy and capable leaders from among the people to share the burden and the responsibility of leadership. Find people who will act on their own, but will also work together with each other on the most difficult challenges.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch observes that this story precedes the receiving of the law at Sinai.  He tells us that although Moses may have been a leader and a legislative genius, but that “he had so little talent for organizing”; Moses needed the guidance of his father-in-law and mentor or he would have exhausted himself.

Hirsch writes that the Israelites needed to put in place this infrastructure before the revelation so that we would be able to build a nation rooted in the values we were about to receive.

From those foundational days, our strength as a community comes when we value and celebrate our many tribes and our shared leadership.

JCRC and our community are heirs to this tradition and we look not to an individual or even to our one organization, but rather to all our leaders and our network, our disparate parts, our 40 members, our partner agencies, our synagogues, to those who define us as a community. 

So tonight we come together to celebrate you, our leaders, and one leader in particular who is at the heart of our community.  For the impact she has had and continues to have on JCRC and our entire community we honor Enid Shapiro.

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I want to especially thank Barry Shrage and the leadership of CJP for their support. Barry is our Moses, our leader, the teacher of our community.  Personally, he is my Jethro, the mentor who is deeply committed to our success, who helps me to see my strengths and my challenges and offers guidance to build upon them.

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And finally thank you to all of our member organizations and partners, to the leaders who give their time to all these organizations and who are in this room with us tonight, too many of you to thank individually but each appreciated because ours is a community united by shared aspirations. We are all stronger for each of our successes:

We all have a powerful voice when Rabbi Ronne Friedman brings words of prayer at an interfaith gathering with the President after the marathon bombings.

We are all represented when the Anti Defamation League and American Jewish Committee are seen in the Boston Globe protesting an appalling editorial about BDS.

Our shared values are advanced when the Jewish Labor Committee and the Jewish Association for Law & Social Action rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform; when so many of our synagogues work with Greater Boston Interfaith Organization for the prevention of gun violence.

And we all are acting powerfully when we come together – 2,000 strong under one banner with CJP and JCRC – to stand with Israel and for her basic right to be free from terror in Gaza.

 Jethro offered a timeless truth that continues to guide us today: grand visions are realized only through the efforts of all of us working together.

 Today we are a strong community, able to act together to advance our shared priorities, our interests, and our values. For that, tonight, we celebrate.   Thank you.

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