This Hanukkah we are taking a moment to shine a light on the resilience of our community throughout this past year. Tonight, we light the 6th candle of the menorah and read how our community brought light and hope to those most vulnerable.
Hanukkah celebrates regaining sovereignty and the right to live freely as Jews in Israel. As we celebrate the miracles of the holiday, we will soon celebrate the miracle of our Jewish community caring for its financially challenged members. In 2024, Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio (HFLA-SA) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, HFLA-SA is looking for records of HFLA’s history and personal reflections on how HFLA-SA played a role in your lives. Whether a loan recipient or a donor, your stories are the deeply personal memories of a community in action. Please forward your stories/ documents to email@example.com. HFLA-SA wishes you a happy and safe Hanukkah.
During the February 2021 winter storm, the Jewish Family Service’s Social Service team was able to contact vulnerable seniors and other clients to make sure they were safe. JFS team members delivered much-needed groceries to seniors who were homebound and low on food. After the storm, JFS assisted with bills and food so that seniors on fixed incomes could use their money to pay deductibles for repairing damaged homes.
This year Congregation Rodfei Sholom worked with University Health System to help the congregation and community members secure COVID vaccinations. The pandemic cast a shadow on so many aspects of life, that we strove to help our community stay healthy and calm by working to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Our other major community issue of the year was of course the February winter storm, during which Rabbi Avraham Scheinberg worked personally with Jewish Federation to bring fresh produce and vegetables to the community when grocery stores were bare.
2021, like the year before, was challenging in many ways. As a country, we were still facing the uncertainty of the pandemic, and social distancing from loved ones. Additionally, we were living in the shadow of the social, cultural, and racial awakening sparked by the murder of George Floyd. As a congregation, Temple Beth-El encouraged thoughtful and meaningful discussions on racism, culture, and society by offering a new program called “Courageous Conversations.” Participants learned through books, films, music, guided lectures, and more from community leaders on these complex and sometimes uncomfortable issues throughout the series. The program’s goal was to help deepen people’s understanding and sense of empathy as we affect change in our community and individual lives.
The Jewish Federation of San Antonio started a new initiative called “Mitzvah Moments.” Each quarter, Federation staff and board members will volunteer in the San Antonio community. The first Mitzvah Moment was at the San Antonio Food Bank where staff and board members worked together to pack “backpack” lunches for food-insecure schoolchildren. The next Mitzvah Moment was in late October with Habitat for Humanity. Federation is looking forward to the next volunteer event and helping the San Antonio community.