Last weekend, scattered reports of a Ukrainian breakthrough in their 6 month long war pushing back the Russian invasion took shape as a broad and successful counteroffensive driving the invaders out of Kharkiv Oblast. As a student of military history and a news junkie for the last 30+ years, I’d been following some reliable sources for a while, and though I wasn’t as surprised as some, I was shocked at the speed and extent of the Russian defeat in that region.
Why am I sharing this with you? To begin a discussion of military and geostrategic events? No.
I bring this up to illustrate that none of us, not the most well informed, most intuitive, or most well intentioned, has a crystal ball. Even in this information age we can still be surprised by events, or at the very least their extent. So, how can we recognize this truth in our everyday lives, and be prepared to act or even anticipate the needs that quick-moving or spreading events can compel us to meet?
One way to do so is to participate in and support an organization which has - and must have - a broad, communal and global perspective, with local and international partners, reaching both down the block and around the world. An organization that has the capacity to act on big issues, like securing our community; on the most personal issues, like supporting individuals who are vulnerable or meeting food security needs for families; and on global issues, like Ukraine emergency relief, or standing up for Israel. An organization like your Jewish Federation.
Those who have been following the war know that Ukraine has also launched an offensive in the south towards Kherson, and it is advancing, though more slowly there too.
And why do I bring this up? More geostrategy? Still no.
I mention this second offensive to illustrate another point. An inspiring cause, a deliberate plan, careful management of resources, nonstop building of partnerships, and a motivated community can do more, be more. As John F. Kennedy said when describing the space race “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
It is incredible, if you think about it. In describing the most audacious scientific endeavor in human history, Kennedy invoked the capacity to ‘do the other things’. He recognized that a motivated society can do more, be more, even when their primary objectives are challenging enough.
Our Jewish community in Rockland is no different. We can act on issues like security, helping the vulnerable, and confronting antisemitism - and we can also do more. We can ask ourselves about issues like health, education, housing, seniors or the environment. With your partnership and support we can address the big issues and think about the others too, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have our eyes open. Let’s see what we can do together.