Words into Action

I recently listened to a podcast in which author Colin Campbell was talking about his new book on grief, ‘Finding The Words’. It was a very moving conversation, as the author talked about the experience of losing both of his teenage children in a car accident. Campbell made a critically important point. He said that one phrase he heard and still hears all the time is “There are no words”. In his book he describes why that is not and cannot be the approach to loss or grief. We are made, built, evolved to find the words.

I know this is a heavy place to start making a point - but I believe that Campbell’s perspective has something to teach us about our daily lives, beyond the lowest points he experienced. All too often, especially in a world as fractured as ours is, we look at challenges and if we don’t exactly shrug our shoulders with indifference, we give a cursory thought and move on. We shy away from difficult conversations, from grappling with the very real conflicts that we see in our daily lives or the lives of others whom we can help. The very nature of what it is to be human is to be a problem solver. Cold? Make a fire. Hungry? Grow a crop or hunt an animal. Need to protect the family or community? Organize for defense and ensure everyone is fed. And when those problems are solved, the ethical and moral challenges in life can be addressed with the guidance of ancient principles and traditions like ours. The point is, to be human, we have to face challenges. Our tradition gives us many tools to do so. In grief, our tradition mandates Shiva, which can be a vital prompt to finding the words. In helping the vulnerable, our tradition guides us to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and support those in need, and shows us how it can be done, and why that need echoes the needs of our wandering ancestors.

How does this apply to us? There are words. There are actions. There are things we can all do in the face of challenge, need, and grief. Our local and international beneficiary agencies all address these in their own particular ways, and we are proud to support them. We are proud to do our part to educate and convene with our programming, and to safeguard with our countering antisemitism and our security initiative.

We can find the words. We can find the deeds. We have the strength in our community to meet the challenges I’ve described. It’s time to renew your partnership with us and support our growing efforts. I look forward to finding the words and deeds with you.