We are the Toldot

November 20, 2020

With all the magnificent miracles and transcendent stories that occur in the Torah, family relationships, sibling rivalry in particular, are a recurring theme. Jealously, love, deceit, camaraderie, theft, and honesty are just a sample of the smorgasbord of feelings and values exhibited by our biblical ancestors.

The defining story of this week’s Torah portion, titled Toldot (Generations), is the great identity theft between Jacob and Esau. It is the story of one child’s theft of another’s parental blessing that sets the course for our final patriarch, Jacob, to embark on his life’s journey in search of meaning.

But how, you might justifiably ask, does this story apply to the broader Jewish community and to the mission and purpose of the Jewish Federation? Well, I am glad you asked.

The Jewish community has defined itself since the time of Abraham and Sarah as an “extended family”. It is rare for two Jews, no matter from where they arrived, to meet for the first time and not play the ancient game of Jewish Geography. “Oh, you’re from New York City, do you know…?” Never mind that there are over 8 million people residing in NYC. Or maybe it’s a game of South African Jewish Geography? “Oh, you’re from Johannesburg, I once met someone from Cape Town, do you know…?” And just in case you weren’t aware, there are over 59 million people in South Africa!!

But the point is not the outcome of the Jewish Geography, it’s the playing it. The very fact that two unknown individuals possess the instant capacity to connect and engage in the game is a sign of the hidden bonds and extended relationships that we possess with one another.

The Jewish Federation’s purpose and mission is to strengthen these bonds. It is to reinforce these ties and to build on the innate foundation of our relationships with one another. Yes, it is true that we might possess differing ideologies, we may find ourselves on conflicting sides of the political spectrum, we may even have passionate feelings toward policies and practices that make us feel like we are worlds apart. And yet, how is this different than any of the sibling stories of the bible?

The Jewish community has always encouraged individual thought and expression while simultaneously reminding us of our responsibility to one another. Whether it was the opposing views of great rabbis documented together in the Talmud, one voicing the “winning” interpretation of a great law while another shared the minority perspective, we have always been able to agree to disagree. Today, it is imperative that we remember this great ability of our people. It is essential that we embrace our ability to disagree on how we feel and what we think but not let it cost us the price of our community.

Today, more than ever, the Jewish Federation is calling on every member of our Jewish community to remember this. Although we are the generations, the Toldot, who descended from those origins of disagreement, we know that in only a few short chapters even Jacob and Esau are able to reunite and put their differences aside. So too, is my hope for our community to return to our common purpose and come together to build our San Antonio Jewish community for the next generations who follow.

The Jewish Federation is

HERE for you.

HERE for our Community.

HERE for our future.

Shabbat shalom,



September 22 – Aseret Yemei Teshuvah


September 15 – The Power of Persistence and Learning

September 8 – All of You

September 1 – A Knowing Heart

August 25 – Commitment to Jewish Literacy

August 18 – Our Time to Self-Reflect

August 11 – Aser Te’aser

August 4 – Consequences of Not Helping Others

July 28 – The Second Comfort

July 21 – Selfless Leaders

July 14 – The Thought Doesn’t Always Count

July 7 – Responding to Our Own Anger

June 30 – There and Here

June 23 – Strength from Unity

June 16 – To Look and To See

June 9 – Our Light to the Community

June 2 – Unique Gifts

May 25 – Gemilut Hasadim

May 19 – Nurturing Growth: Fire, Water, and Land

May 12 – Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind

May 5 – Our Seven Attributes

April 28 – Holiness in Repetition

April 21 – Asking Good Questions

April 14 – Our Connection to Water

April 5 – Zissen Pesach

March 31 – Our Obligation to Assist

March 24 – Different Levels of Sacrifice

March 17 – Creating Sacred Spaces

March 10 – Not Deciding Is A Decision

March 3 – Weaving the Fabrics of Our Community

February 24 – Tzedakah vs Philanthropy

February 17 – A Holy Nation

February 10 – You Cannot Do It Alone

February 3 – One Small Act

January 27 – Pushing Back the Plague of Darkness

January 20 – Three Types of Conflict

January 13 – I am that I am

January 6 – The Journeys We Pursue

December 30 – We are Judeans

December 23 – The Light of our Existence

December 16 – Passing On Wisdom

December 9 – The Company We Keep

December 2 – The Irrelevant One

November 23 – Breaking Bread and Building Relationships

November 18 – Knowledge vs. Wisdom

November 11 – Here I Am

November 4 – A Fabric of Ideologies

October 28 – A Trip to Our Partnership Region

October 19 – Resetting the Journey

October 14 – The Chag

October 4 – Adjusting the Sails


September 30 – From Learning to Teaching

September 23 – The Meaning of LIFE & LEGACY

September 16 – An Understanding Heart

September 9 – Equity vs. Equality

September 2 – Justice and Mercy

August 26 – Open! Open Your Hand

August 19 – Making Memories for Generations

August 12 – Kavanah and Kevah

August 5 – An Ethical Will

July 31 –  Communal Responsibility

July 22 – Creating New Beauty

July 15 – Dwell Apart, Together

July 8 – Consequences of Not Listening

July 1 – Two Types of Disagreements

June 24 – Hatikvah

June 17 – Rejoicing in Your Lot

June 10 – Finding Our Peace

June 3 – The Intangible Other Half 

May 27 – Be Part of the Solution

May 20 – Attainable Summits

May 13 – Standing up to Antisemitism

May 6 – Holy Relationships

April 29 – Finding Balance and Direction

April 22 – Happy Earth Day

April 15 – Humor at the Table

April 8 – The Weight of Words

April 1 – Evaluating our Spiritual Health

March 25 – Raise Your Voice

March 18 – Learning from Failing

March 11 – Being Called Out

March 4 -Ukraine Needs Our Help

February 25 – Crisis in Ukraine

February 18 – Counting Half-Shekels

February 11 – Our Jerseys

February 4 – Giving from the Heart 

January 28 – Treating Others With Kindness

January 21 – Feeling Without Experiencing

January 14 – Taking the First Step

January 7 – Seeing in the Dark

December 30 – Change Takes Time

December 23 – To Know Someone

December 17 – Multi-Generational Lessons

December 10 – Choosing Your Attitude

December 3 – Major vs Minor

November 24 – Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander

November 19 – Leaving a Legacy

November 12 – Jacob’s Ladder

November 5 – Relationships Matter

October 29 – Setting a Higher Standard

October 22 – On Being a Jew

October 15 – Blessed vs. Blessing

October 8 – Granting Trust

October 1 – Stronger Together

September 24 – REPRINT of October 9, 2020 

September 17 – Remember the days of old

September 10 – Ten Days of Teshuvah


September 3 – Our Jewish Peoplehood

August 27 – With all thy might

August 20 – Remembering to Forget

August 13 – The Trees of the Field

August 6 – The Mission of Maintaining the Roads

July 30 – Two Ears and One Mouth

July 23 – Antisemitism From All Sides

July 16 – The Greatest Threat

July 9 – Oxymorons and Echo Chambers

July 2 – The Impact of Today’s Decisions

June 25 – Or Lagoyim: A Light Unto the Nations

June 18 – Remembering Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg z”l

June 11 – Equity, Equality, and Investing in Our Future Leaders 

June 4 – An Optimist’s Perspective

May 28 – The Gathering of Feathers

May 21 – We Must be Proactive

May 14 – Here for Israel

May 7 – Behar Behukotai

April 30 – Lessons From My Saba

April 23 – Kedushah: Rising to Holiness

April 16 – Learning Empathy from Leprosy

April 9 – Finding Our Collective Hope

April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting Antisemitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe


September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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