February 5, 2021
When we talk about community, we often imagine the group of individuals, each on his or her own personal journey coming together to form a collective. The flow is from the singular to the many.
In this week’s Yitro Torah portion, however, we read of a different kind of flow and explanation of community. In Exodus 19:2 we read that “they journeyed from Rephidim”, “they arrived in the Sinai”, “they encamped in the desert”, only to then be singularly mentioned as “Israel encamped opposite the mountain.”
Our sages explain that until they reached their destination, the people were a collection of individuals simply traveling together. However, once they arrived at Sinai, ready to receive the Torah, this mix of people turned into one nation with one purpose.
In reflecting on this insight, and considering our San Antonio Jewish community, it is easy to compare our Jewish agencies, synagogues, and organizations to the journeying travelers in a “they” stage. Each agency has its unique institutional mission, its own separate board of trustees, its own constituents and members whom it serves, and each organization needs to secure its own resources for its non-profit survival. This has been evidently clear over the course of the pandemic because each organization has found its own success in its own unique way, each maneuvering through the challenges of the last year.
From the Jewish Federation of San Antonio’s vantage point, we actually have a different perspective. We acknowledge the diversity of our community, welcoming each organization’s ability to serve their unique niche and demographic of our broader collective. Yet, because the Jewish Federation’s mission is to serve every Jewish community member, and sustain Jewish life locally, as well as internationally, our community purpose is clear. We bring the community together, we listen and plan for the community, and we secure the resources to support the community.
This week the Crisis Allocations Committee, the committee responsible for distributing the $500,000 of funds raised specifically to support our community through COVID, met again for the fifth round of allocations. To date the committee has distributed:
- Essential funds for Hebrew Free Loan (HFL-SA) to provide critical emergency loans for local individuals and families struggling through the pandemic
- Emergency funds for Jewish Family Service (JFS) to quickly shift their services at the onset of the pandemic from in-person service to a virtual platform
- Vital funds for the Jewish Community Center (JCC) to maintain its staff and continue providing its programs during these socially distanced times
- Safety funds for multiple agencies to obtain immediate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the protection of their staff and members
- Engagement and outreach funds to all the local synagogues and Temples (Temple Beth El, Agudas Achim, Rodfei Sholom, Chabad, and Temple Chai) to maintain community and ensure their ability to connect with all their members during these isolating times
- Funds to San Antonio Jewish Senior Services (SAJSS), Ohr Lanu, Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio (TASA), Greene Family Camp, and Camp Young Judea to help with operations, maintaining employees through the crisis, and other critical needs,
- And much, much more!
Lastly, we want to specifically thank the Blend Family for their generous matching challenge, which helped secure these critical Community Crisis Campaign funds at an essential time. Yes, we are a collection of many ideologies, beliefs, and practices, but when we come together with one vision, one purpose, and one goal of serving the Jewish community, that is when our “they” firmly turns into our “Israel”!
Wishing everyone a wonderful and restful Shabbat shalom.