Celebrating Strong Community Support and Impact | Shalom Austin

Celebrating Strong Community Support and Impact

CEO Message, The Jewish Outlook

Feb 24, 2022

It’s hard to believe that we have approached two years since the pandemic radically changed our lives. Two years ago, only a day or two before our annual fundraising event, IGNITE!, SXSW was canceled and we made the decision to cautiously move forward with our program. Only a few days later, the entire city began a shutdown, including all Jewish institutions. On the Dell Jewish Community Campus, only security and facilities teams remained to watch over the campus with a select few staff among the campus partners.  Most of us held virtual Passover Seders with our extended families and friends.

And within months, every Jewish institution, upon guidance of public health experts and national umbrella movements, slowly reopened and provided in person services, programs and events. While vaccines became available and we gradually took steps toward a new normal, variants made it difficult for us to return to pre-pandemic protocols.

The pandemic has not been the only challenge for our community. Over the past couple of months, we have experienced a surge of antisemitic incidents across our region. Unfortunately, this rise of antisemitism in greater Austin mirrors the exponential rise in antisemitic activity both in our country and across the globe. We are blessed by the incredible support of our community, elected officials, law enforcement and partner organizations such as ADL Austin and Andy Dooher, our security director, who leverage both local and national resources to ensure our protection. This latest activity is another stark reminder that people of all backgrounds and faiths must stand together against antisemitism and that antisemitism is a good barometer for the level of hate in society.

As we approach the holidays of Purim and Passover, despite all the challenges we have experienced in the past two years, we must continue to show up to Purim and express our Judaism with great pride. And we must remind ourselves of our duty to take the lessons of the Passover Seder and bring them to life in our everyday actions. Please take a moment to study the many different ways you can celebrate Purim and Passover in this year’s guide with congregational and organizational partners.

Finally, I do pray that we are able to come together safely again as a community for IGNITE! in person. It will be just over two years since our entire community convened, and it will be wonderful to celebrate together again our collective impact as a Jewish community.

Wishing each and every one of you a joyous and meaningful season of holidays!

L’Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus

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