I’ve always loved to write. While some see it and foster it as an outlet for creativity and spirituality, I also see it in two other, very important ways. First, writing is a call to and an instrument of action. If you want to motivate others, to educate or enlighten others, or to express gratitude or love to others, the written word has no substitute. This month, you may have seen us share information on social media about American Jewish journalist Evan Gershkovich. Our partners at Jewish Federations of North America launched a letter-writing campaign to send New Year’s greetings and messages of support to Evan, the wrongly-detained Wall Street Journal reporter who has been in jail in Russia for the last five months. They will compile the greetings into a collective letter that will be sent to Evan in time for Rosh Hashanah and will also forward the letters to Evan’s family in New Jersey.
Hundreds of messages have already flooded in from 12 countries and the campaign has garnered press coverage worldwide. To send Evan a message of solidarity, wishes for a sweet year, and to let the Russian government know we are all watching, click here.
Second, writing is a way to share with future generations, to provide them with insight and context as they make their own way in life. Later this month, the 299th Yahrzeit of a remarkable woman will be observed. She wasn’t a brilliant legalist or a poet, she didn’t have a huge following in her time, and she was a very practically minded individual. What Glueckel of Hamelin had, though, was a keen eye, a quick pen and a voluminous memory. We are aware of this because remarkably, several volumes of her diaries have survived to modern times. She’s been compared to the 18th century English diarist Samuel ‘Doc’ Johnson, and her writings give us great insight into the lives of Jews in Germany at the time - more so into the life of a German Jewish woman living on the cusp of the Enlightenment.
Glueckel wrote about family, business, children, traveling, war, messianism, and so many of the concerns of the day, both the day to day intricacies as well as events of world-shaking importance. She provided us with insights that are still relevant almost 300 years later. Her perspective - as a woman, as a merchant, as a traveler, and as a Jew in 17-18th century Hamburg, Hamelin and Metz - is invaluable.
These two examples set us on the path to learning and the path to action. Coming to the conclusion of my second year in Rockland, I am certain of one thing - I still have a tremendous amount to learn. But I also know that despite my continuing self education, I can’t hesitate to write or speak out on behalf of my fellow Jew, especially one incarcerated by a warmongering and dangerous regime.
In doing these things, I am modeling the commitment to advocacy and to education that our Federation holds paramount. We often talk about our beneficiary agencies, about how your support tangibly helps the vulnerable here in Rockland. Writing, learning, acting. These are vital elements of supporting our community as well. Let’s learn and act together. For good.
Looking forward to your partnership and continuing support. Shabbat Shalom.