As you may have heard or seen, last Saturday night four young adults attacked several Jewish pedestrians with bb guns, eggs and other projectiles in Ramapo. With tremendous thanks to law enforcement, including Chief Reilly, Sheriff Falco and their dedicated investigators, the perpetrators were caught. They were charged with several misdemeanors and felony charges, including hate crime designations. Several community organizations worked together with police to help in the investigation. As I stood at the press conference on Wednesday preparing to speak, one thing that these events clarified for me was the capacity our community - in its broadest sense - has to work together within and beyond the social boundaries of the Jewish community.
One of the key objectives of our brand new security initiative at Federation is for our team to work with the community and with law enforcement to find the vulnerabilities and gaps in our community's security beyond the walls and doors of our institutions, and then to find ways to eliminate or limit them. This week, both in dealing with the attacks last weekend, as well as addressing a public health issue yesterday, I saw the strength of multiple stakeholders approaching a problem from several angles, and each bringing their strengths to bear to solve it.
Coming together to leverage our unique and combined strengths isn't only a message for those of us involved in securing the community - it is a message all of us can benefit from in tackling any challenge. Here's an example:
How can we foster and celebrate Jewish life among our youngest community members? Introduce them to literacy and fun through a Jewish lens with PJ Library!
- Get parents interested and involved? Check!
- Provide an opportunity for grandparents to read and play with their grandkids around tradition and holidays? Check!
- Involve stakeholders like camps, schools and synagogues to leverage their unique roles in Jewish life? Check!
- Reach out to community members to support this amazing programming through Federation? Check!
Every challenge we have is an opportunity to come together, work together, learn about each other, build friendship and trust. Maybe that's the primary objective, and securing our community, or helping the vulnerable, or developing and delivering important programs are the vehicles we need to achieve our most important objective - coming together as a Jewish community.
At this time of the Jewish calendar, in remembering the destruction and exile commemorated on Tisha B'Av, we should also remember the cause of those events two thousand years ago. Tradition tells us it was sinat chinam, baseless hatred, that weakened us enough for the Romans to prevail. Let's strive to come together, with purpose and with goodwill. There's no limit to what we can achieve.