Listening and learning make strong community


In Phoenix, summer is typically a time when things slow down; people take vacations and recharge before school starts and our calendars begin to fill with holiday and other obligations. Unfortunately, this summer has been a time of elevated concern for the world and for our country. Divisiveness seems to be at an all-time high.

These past few months, we have seen continued terror attacks in Israel, as well as increased attacks in England, France, Germany and throughout the Middle East. Anti-Semitism continues to rise, including right here in the U.S. and Arizona. Innocent people are being killed and persecuted. We have seen police ambushed and murdered. This causes us to seriously question where we are headed as a society and what can be done.

So much of what we do at the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix is caring for those in need, but equally important is our work to build and support communities. This role is even more important at times like these. It is the strength of relationships and a strong community that can help us through and allow us to thrive.

While some of our work is obvious – such as fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or BDS movement – some of our work may be less apparent, but no less important. Our community core impact areas draw us together and assure our continued vibrancy. Our Israel advocacy initiatives and programs, and our funding of organizations that bring our communities together, keep our community focused on what is important and counteract anti-Semitism. Our NowGen initiative ensures that Jewish young adults engage within our community, developing them into leaders and reminding them what it is to live Jewishly.

By bringing people together and creating a true sense of community, we can make our community, our country and our world a better place – tikkun olam. Your support of the federation campaign builds the capacity of the federation’s work directly, as well as through the many amazing organizations we fund. Thank you.

In these divisive times, I ask us all to take a pause to listen more and judge less, and to live our Jewish values. If we all try harder to listen and to learn rather than preach and convince, we will be a stronger and healthier community.

To listen and learn, we are conducting a survey of our community to learn your thoughts about the federation’s role today and in the future. We greatly value your input and thank you in advance for your participation.

I ask you to please support our efforts to enrich Jewish lives here in Phoenix, in Israel and around the globe. With support, optimism and hard work, our Jewish community will thrive and be a brighter light unto the world when it is most needed.

Stuart Wachs is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.

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