Thank You, First Responders

The Police from Pittsburgh and the suburban municipalities completely surrounded me on Wednesday night. No, you have nothing to worry about. This was at Stage AE where the Jewish Federation put on a program to honor and thank all the first responders, including health care, Fire, EMS and others who did all they could on October 27th to protect and care for the worshipers in and around the Tree of Life Building. Over 300 people attended.

Other than about 9 minutes of speeches from Meryl Ainsman, our Board Chair, and me, the rest of the evening featured Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Scott Blasey and Emcee Jim Krenn (all who donated their time). It was a celebration for all those who suspended their own personal needs and safety to care for others. It was especially moving that several of the families who lost loved ones and the two members of our community who were severely injured were able to attend.

Every first responder we thanked one on one said the same thing to us, “no thanks necessary”. Well, thanks are necessary. And I am so gratified that our Federation took the initiative to do so. One of the important learnings from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Ancestors, is:

If you have done your fellow a slight wrong, let it be a serious matter in your eyes;
but if you have done your fellow a great good, let it be a small thing in your eyes.
And if you fellow has done you a small favor, let it be a great thing in your eyes;
but if your fellow has done you a great evil, let it be a small thing in your eyes.

To say that what these first responders did was a “small favor” would be completely inaccurate and utterly disrespectful, and I in no way want to imply that. But we need to make what they did “a great thing in” OUR eyes. Wednesday night was one way to demonstrate that.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

Credits: Concert by Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and Scott Blasey of The Clarks. Photo by David Bachman.

Jeff Finkelstein

President & CEO

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