July 31, 2020
Unlike most weeks where I might start this article by referencing something happening in the world at large or our San Antonio community, which I would then connect to a verse or storyline from the weekly Torah portion, this week instead, I am going directly to the Haftorah text and referencing it’s opening words, Nachamu, nachamu ami (“Comfort, comfort My people”).
This week we celebrate Shabbat Nachamu, which is the Shabbat immediately following Tisha B’Av. This holiday commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple. Although there are many lessons learned from the decision by our sages to select this text to read immediately after the commemoration of such a sad time in our people’s history, Shabbat Nachamu is another example of how our Jewish traditions and customs have been specifically designed to not have us dwell in a disheartened or forsaken state of mind. Rather, we are challenged to change our point of reference and consciously work to celebrate, support, and comfort those who need to be raised up.
To say we are living through “unprecedented times” is to not be fair to the many occasions throughout history that would make today’s challenges seem like blessings and rewards. However, these are our unprecedented times. As a community we are living through challenges and struggles like we have never experienced before. Our local Jewish agencies and temples’ resources are being drained at a rate well-beyond their capacity. Our community is in need in different and more extraordinary ways than in previous years.
To make matters more difficult for our community, last year the United Way withdrew almost $500,000 to our JCC and Jewish Family Service collectively. The JCC was shorted over $300,000 and JFS almost $200,000. Today, with the global pandemic hitting us here at home, the JCC is once again struggling with a second wave of unprecedented challenge, having had reduced camp participation this summer and an understandable drop in pre-school participation. JFS needed to transition their entire operations online… and these are just two Jewish agencies affected among many!
The Jewish Federation of San Antonio understands the words of Shabbat Nachamu. “Comfort, comfort My nation” is a responsibility and obligation we have to one another. And that leads us to our work over the coming months as we conclude 2020.
In the coming weeks, the Federation will be kicking off the Annual Campaign. This campaign is how we are able to support and provide comfort to our community. We know that each of us is struggling through our own personal challenges during these times. However, we also know that as difficult as it might be for us, there are others struggling with greater pain, increased anxiety, and amplified fear of the unknown. In preparation for this campaign, we ask that you please consider what you are able to give. How much can you share that will help comfort those in our community and across the globe this year?
All of us at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio are incredibly grateful for your gift in any amount that you can provide. If you would like to make your gift before being asked, please click <<HERE>> and conveniently pay online. May we achieve the expectations of the closing words of the Shabbat Nachamu Haftorah, ish lo nedar (“no one will be lacking”).