Over the last couple of weeks, the Atlanta Jewish Times has published stories of great tragedy and of great victories. As I read these stories, before publishing them, I realize just how important our mission in keeping Jewish Atlanta connected really is and I am reminded of a Yiddish Proverb that my grandmother would commonly say, “Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow.”
Last week in our 18 Under 18, we published the accolades of 18 Jewish Atlanta students that are mere examples of the hundreds of leaders, rising stars and movers and shakers of our community’s future. As a parent of three teenagers, I know first-hand that this generation’s victories and accomplishments do not come without hard work, great effort and a tremendous amount of stress while attempting to succeed in the competitive world in which they live. Yet without fail, the youth of our Jewish community strive to be the best, make a real difference and attempt to conquer the difficulties within our society. Some might say it is inbred in them as part of their DNA.
Being Jewish commonly comes with the stigma of being successful, intellectual, innovative and resilient. Not so bad. Although, the question remains, what is the foundation of this trend in our history as a people? Is it part of our DNA? Or is it the foundation of Jewish values found in our traditions, religion or sense of community? Maybe it’s a combination of all of it? I do not know the answer. What I do know is that our youth need our support as a community to share our knowledge and experiences with them. What becomes even more evident is that, as adults and members of our community, we also need each other.
So, what does it mean to be Jewish? This question has presented itself over and over the last two weeks as we discuss the concerns within our community, read the amazing accomplishments of our youth and witness the state of Israel becoming the nation of the Jewish people.
I will close with a question and a challenge for all of you:
Question: What does it mean to be Jewish to you? Think about the essence of being Jewish and what that means to you.
Challenge: Be a part of continuing this conversation with your community. Write the AJT a letter about “What being Jewish means to you.”
I would like to share these letters over the course of the next few weeks and publish them in the newspaper. It’s important that we ask the questions that define us and embrace the differences and challenges that make us who we are.
Please keep your letters to 200 words or less; include your name, phone number and email, directing your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.