Over the last week, I personally had the chance to speak with every one of the Federation’s eight beneficiary CEO’s/Executive Directors. I found these conversations to be so incredibly inspiring. Each individual shared how their agencies are doing and some of the herculean efforts they and their teams have persevered through to keep our Jewish community functioning throughout the pandemic. In every conversation I expressed our community’s gratitude for their agency’s work. Our Federation, powered by our donors’ generosity, invested millions of dollars over and above the millions of dollars we normally allocate to these agencies to support them to do what they do. My conversations, once again, reminded me that we live in a community with some of the best professional and volunteer leadership of any Jewish community.
Yet another reflection of our unique richness here in Pittsburgh comes from one of my favorite nights of the entire year of programming. Annually, around this time, I write the same message. The Tikkun Leil (Shavuot) coordinated by the Federation with incredible partnership from our talented, local congregational Rabbis, spiritual leaders and educators is fast approaching. When else does the diversity and vibrancy of our Jewish community come together for a night of studying Jewish texts, history and culture? Like last year, this year’s program will be conducted virtually and therefore will be taking place the night before Shavuot to make sure that, in our inclusive way, everyone can participate. I strongly urge you to visit the Federation’s dedicated webpage to see the 21 rich offerings. I can’t wait to see you on Zoom.
While I mentioned one of my most favorite programs of the year is coming in a few weeks, this week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, contains one of my most favorite lines,
“…you shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your God…”Vayikra/Leviticus 19:14
Each of us has limitations and our job as a community is to help everyone be successful with their own special skills, interests and beliefs. By removing stumbling blocks and by being inclusive, we allow each individual to achieve their own maximum potential and to build a meaningful pathway for an engaged Jewish life. I never forget how lucky I am to work for and live in a community that continues on all levels to live by this commandment. Whether it is at the level of our agencies, our congregations, our donors, or our individual participants, Pittsburgh excels at promoting, supporting and enhancing community. Thank you.