CEO Column - The Jewish Outlook March 2024 | Shalom Austin

CEO Column – The Jewish Outlook March 2024

The Jewish Outlook

Mar 1, 2024

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus. Courtesy: Shalom Austin

As we approach Purim, a time when we are commanded to find joy and happiness in our lives, we know that this year’s celebration will be filled with mixed emotions. We continue to pray that all hostages are returned safely and all those hostages who have died in captivity that their bodies are returned to their loved ones so that they may be properly buried, providing a path toward closure and shalom for their families and friends. We also pray for all soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and all innocent civilians who are put in harm’s way to be provided with sukkat shalom, a shelter of peace.   

 Many of our rabbinic leadership traveled to Israel in recent months. Rabbi Neil Blumofe, Rabbi Eleanor Steinman and Rabbi Kelly Levy provide insight in this issue on their trips to Israel. On a separate and more recent trip, Rabbi Neil Blumofe journeyed to Ukraine to volunteer and learn more about the ongoing war that has caused such devastation to the people of Ukraine and its neighbors in the region. 

 Despite these challenging times, we must find the light and joy in our lives that exists and share that with others.  On my trip to Israel, which began only three weeks after October 7, we were inspired by the ways that people of all faiths and backgrounds in Israel were bringing light and renewed joy to each other, even in what is one the darkest moments in Israeli history.   

 Next month, we will come together for our premier fundraising event, IGNITE! on April 7, six months since the start of the war.  Co-chaired by Robin and Marty Davis and Lainie and Jonathan Polland, it will be an evening when we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel and here in Austin. It will also be a time when we share our collective impact, the many ways we bring light to our growing Jewish community in Greater Austin and to the Jewish people around the world and in Israel. We will honor Frances Meltzer and Sandy Dochen for their incredible leadership in the Jewish community.   

This year, we celebrate Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation’s 10th Anniversary.  In just ten years, the Jewish Foundation has made a profound philanthropic impact on our Jewish and greater community through the collective of many donors and Jewish institutions. The Jewish Foundation is integral to a sustainable future for our Jewish community and enables our community members and institutions to define and achieve their philanthropic goals for the present and in perpetuity.  

 Finally, I want to congratulate my colleague and friend, Rabbi Steve Folberg, for his 33 years of service to Congregation Beth Israel. Everyone is invited to join in honoring Rabbi Folberg at Gathering of Gratitude, a gala weekend that is open to the community from April 12-14.   

 As we approach Purim and only about a month later Passover, I pray that we all find moments of light and joy in our lives, especially during these challenging times. I also continue to pray that lasting peace arrives for those affected by war.   

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