Tonight is the eve of Yom Kippur. I can already hear that beautiful melody of Kol Nidre — the same melody and the same words that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and their ancestors experienced over the many past generations. As I enjoy those thoughts, there is one thought that transcends them all — Yom Kippur is the culmination of the Ten Days of Teshuvah. Teshuvah is often taken to mean repentance, but it also means “return.” That one thought starts with a question — “return” to what?
Yes, we would all like to “return” to pre-Covid days when life for us, our children, and grandchildren took on a sense of normalcy — meeting friends and family without masks, going to the office, traveling on business or on vacation, among other things. We should all hope and pray that those days come shortly.
As I think of “return,” however, I think about “returning” to the Jewish values that have guided my life, that have made me proud to be a Jew and proud to be Chair of the Board of Federation whose mission is based on these values. These values (about which we must remind ourselves every day) inform us how to speak to each other, how to conduct ourselves in business, how to care for those in our community who are less fortunate than we. Importantly, these values instruct us how to teach our children and grandchildren what it means to live a meaningful and responsible life, and why it is important to ensure the Jewish future. “Returning” to these values reinforces to all of us during these divisive times that we, as Jews who have a shared history and culture, have more in common than what drives us apart.
Irrespective of how we observe these Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, let’s remind ourselves and “return” to the Jewish values that have been the core reason why the Jewish people have survived over the past centuries.
On behalf of our Federation, I wish you and the entire Jewish community (Klal Yisrael) a G’mar Chatimah Tovah — may you, our community, and all of mankind be inscribed and sealed for a year of health, prosperity, merit, and peace.
Albert Z. Praw
Chair of the Board