CEO Column- December 2023 | Shalom Austin

CEO Column- December 2023

CEO Message, The Jewish Outlook

Dec 3, 2023

Shalom Austin CEO, Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus. Courtesy: Shalom Austin

“My heart is in the east but I, I am at the edge of the west.” These are the famous words written by Judah Halevi, a renowned rabbi, poet and philosopher, who expressed the ageless longing of the Jewish people for the land of Israel. As I woke up on Saturday, October 7 and heard the horrific news, I immediately recalled these words as I was reminded how precious the modern miracle of Israel is and how my heart continues to be with the am yisrael, the people of Israel.

Despite the very challenging times, I am heartened by the incredible solidarity in our community behind supporting Israel. The combination of Jewish institutional and grassroots efforts to show support for our Israeli brothers and sisters has been nothing but remarkable.

Providing support for our Israeli community here in Austin is also critical. Over 1000 Israelis live in the greater Austin area. Many of their family members and close friends have come to live in Austin temporarily as the war continues. Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service is coordinating efforts with these families to ensure that all displaced families are provided for during this difficult time, including working with our Jewish institutional partners who have opened their doors and welcomed them to participate.

As we approach and celebrate Hanukkah in the coming days, we remind ourselves of the miracle of victory over the Greek Seleucids and the light that lasted 8 days. October 7 reminded us how precious the miracle of the modern State of Israel is. Our tradition continually reminds us that we should not take for granted what we have worked so hard to accomplish as a people. Hanukkah reminds us how precious the light is and to be proud of our Jewish heritage, placing the Hanukkiah in the window where others can see it.

This is a time for rededication of our support of am yisrael, the people of Israel. We are stronger when we are one unified Jewish community. Unity comes from our support of one another, both in Israel and here at home in greater Austin.

Finally, as the light grows each night of Hanukkah as we count our way to the 8th day, let us continue to call for the rescue of each hostage from Hamas and the terrorists in Gaza. Let us light candles on their behalf and act to ensure their light continues to shine brightly through our efforts and voices.

We pray that just as in times of past, we too can say nes gadol hayah sham, a great miracle happened there.

Am Yisrael Chai,

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus

Shalom Austin CEO

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