Hope, Resilience, and Integrity

March 8, 2024 / 28 Adar I 5784

We read in this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, profound insights into the essence of community, leadership, and the importance of hope, resilience, and integrity. These values, deeply rooted in our Jewish heritage, were vividly brought to life during this week’s Jewish Federation’s solidarity mission to Israel, specifically to San Antonio’s Partnership 2Gether (P2G) region in the Western Galilee. This mission, aimed at standing with displaced families, supporting regional non-profits, and engaging with local elected officials, served to bear witness to the living testament of strength and unity of the Jewish people in the face of extraordinary adversity.

In Parashah Vayakhel, Moses gathers the entire Israelite community and instructs them on the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the portable dwelling place for Gd’s Divine presence. This collective endeavor emphasizes the importance of unity and mutual support, principles that were palpably experienced during the solidarity mission. Verses from this week’s reading where “Moses said unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, ‘This is the thing which the Lrd commanded” (Exodus 35:4) highlight the significance of communal effort and leadership grounded in integrity. Just as Moses led our ancestors with honesty and transparency, so too were our mission’s interactions with local leaders, who shared their challenges and triumphs with heartfelt sincerity.

The construction of the Mishkan also required hope and resilience, as the Israelites contributed their skills, resources, and spirit to a collective vision, despite the uncertainties of their desert journey. So too was the hope and resilience witnessed in the Western Galilee, where despite ongoing challenges, communities are living their daily lives under the duress of a seemingly imminent war with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border. Families already displaced by the creation of the approximate 2-mile buffer zone on the Lebanon border, shared stories of hope, not only for their desired return home, but for real and lasting peace and prosperity in the region. Their resilience, in the face of never-before-experienced adversity like this, is a powerful reminder of the strength found in our faith and community.

Integrity is further exemplified in Vayakhel through the dedication to honest craftsmanship in building the Mishkan, as those of “wise heart, in whom Gd had put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, did according to all that the Gd had commanded” (Exodus 36:1). This dedication to quality and honesty is mirrored in the integrity of the regional non-profits, who are committed to serving all the victims of the horrors of 10/7 with incredible transparency and dedication.

Let us reflect on the parable of the single thread, which alone was too futile to serve its purpose, but, when woven with other threads, became meaningful in the tapestry’s creation. Our consortium’s mission to the Western Galilee has been a thread in the larger tapestry of Jewish solidarity with Israel, where hope, resilience, and integrity has strengthened our collective fabric.

Let us also heed the call to action inspired by Parashat Vayakhel and our experiences in Israel. May we all live by the values of hope, resilience, and integrity, supporting one another and our extended family in Israel during this critical time of need. Just as the Israelites united to build the Mishkan, so too must we come together, weaving our individual strengths into a community that stands strong in the face of challenges, committed to building a brighter future for all. Because we are…


Shabbat Shalom.