It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You
JULY 10, 2020
As we experience a period of isolation like no other in recent history, the Jewish Federation of San Antonio (JFSA) wants you to know that we are here for you! In times of increased stress and anxiety, it is human nature to seek stability, comfort, and a sense of community. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty; the current racial, ethnic, and cultural tensions have tapped into our self reflective instinct; and the economic instability is feeding into our fears of what if? However, it is exactly during times like this that the Jewish community has a Jewish Federation.
Unfortunately, many San Antonians do not know or understand the purpose of having a Jewish Federation – why does it exit? So, let me share… the Federation’s reason for being is to ensure the sustainability of our Jewish community! It really is that simple.
When Covid-19 first hit, it was the JFSA who responded with a Crisis Campaign that immediately raised $500,000 for our local Jewish agencies and synagogues. Before the government responded with business loans, before banks and large corporations responded to their customers’ struggles, it was the Federation who reached out to ensure that our San Antonio Jewish organizations stayed financially healthy in order to continue serving our community as best we could.
- JFSA facilitated Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) ability to seamlessly transition its campus operations to serve its clients remotely.
- JFSA afforded the Barshop Jewish Community Center (JCC) immediate funds to implement heightened COVID19-related protocols and procedures to safely reopen its preschool so parents of essential employees could go back to work.
- JFSA provided our local Hebrew Free Loan Association (HFLA-SA) a boost of cash so they could urgently assist families in need who were laid off or furloughed.
- JFSA gifted our local synagogues funds to help bridge any immediate financial struggles.
JFSA provided many more examples like these so that the Jewish community’s infrastructure could continue to provide the needed services irrespective of the challenges that were occurring in the world at large.
In these week’s Torah portion, we read of a relatively unknown biblical character, Pinchas (the namesake of the Torah reading), receiving a gift from G-d that is even greater than any reward or honor that Moses ever received. It is such a distinguished reward that it is not only gifted to Pinchas, but as the text reads, “It shall be for him and for his descendants after him” (Numbers 25:13).
Our sages teach us that the takeaway from this story is that leadership is not always about being the most well-known, front and center, high profile entity, rather, leadership is about what you do, when you do it, and how you fulfill the tasks needed on behalf of the community.
The Federation is not the most well-known Jewish agency in San Antonio. We, in fact, might not be known or even needed on most days by the general members of our community, but when times are tough, when people’s anxieties are raised, and when our future existence might be in question, it is the Federation that has the responsibility to ensure the ultimate sustainability of the Jewish community of San Antonio, and in that we take great pride.
Please be careful out there and stay safe.