I grew up in a small town in Texas—a lot like Colleyville.
All day Saturday, as I hit refresh on CNN.com and read prayers on Facebook, I was reminded of my early years in Texas, of the antisemitic incidents I witnessed and of the challenges I faced being Jewish in this very-not-Jewish area. These experiences led me to devote my professional life to building Jewish community, to instilling a sense of pride among our people and creating for my children a reality that would be very different from my own.
And yet, 40 years and 1,800 miles later, here we are. It’s not just the small towns in Texas. In the event of an active shooter, my backyard in Needham becomes the emergency escape gathering place for the preschool kids from a neighboring synagogue. Security guards greet me every morning as I drop my kids off at Jewish day school. And, to be honest and vulnerable, when my son goes to swim practice and meets at area YMCAs, I sometimes wonder if I should make him remove his silver Jewish star necklace.
And yet, 40 years and 1,800 miles later, as I refreshed the news on Saturday and offered my own prayers for a safe resolution to the hostage situation, I simultaneously worked on my latest PowerPoint deck. I’m here doubling down on the same mission I’ve had for decades. The work—our work—is more important than ever. It’s not easy and some may say it’s a bit crazy to spend my days committed to launching CJP’s Spark!, a Boston Jewish journey highlighting Israel’s 75th Independence Day in 2023 and bringing a thousand-plus people together at a time when we are so very apart. But this weekend reminded me, once again, why it matters.
I choose hope over fear and action over apathy, and recommit myself to a safe, strong and vibrant Jewish future.
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