Once again, we find ourselves living in the dichotomy.
It’s Purim, the holiday that commands us to be happy. And yet we mourn with our interfaith brothers and sisters following the killing of 50 Muslims by a white supremacist in New Zealand and the killing of hundreds of Christians in Nigeria by Muslim extremists.
What do we do in the dichotomy?
Do we live in the space in between? The neutral, numbing gap, where it’s easy to feel as close to nothing as possibly?
As they say on the train platform, mind the gap. It can be dangerous. Speaking for myself, the gap is the place to binge reruns of The Big Bang Theory, to bury myself in work, to busy myself solving a friend’s problem instead of owning my own joy or pain.
At Jewish Federation, the dichotomy is part of our daily drill. We just published our 2018 Annual Report, and it shows we have a lot of very meaningful impact to feel good about. Really good. In the next breath, we are creating a funding proposal for a donor who’d like to do more for the needy. Describing for them the unmet needs in our Jewish community is heartbreaking.
How do we manage the mood swings? We do it by talking to people like you about both the progress and the pain in Jewish life – both the lives we have turned around and those still beyond our reach and our resources. Talking about it helps. Action feels even better.
It feels good knowing we are doing something – in fact, many things – to assess and address unmet needs. Among them, crafting solutions with partners and mustering support from people like you who believe – and invest – in a strong and caring Jewish community.
We subscribe to the adage in Pirkei Avot – The Ethics of Our Fathers – from the Talmud: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” How’s that for embracing dichotomy!?
Here’s another way: Perhaps you are planning to take part in Purim festivities in the coming days, or one of the local interfaith solidarity events? Maybe something else from the Jewish community calendar appeals to you. Go where you’re commanded to feel happy. Or go where you’re likely to share in pain. But go somewhere. Stay away from the gap, and know you are not alone.
By Lisa Karasic, the Jewish Federation's Chief Marketing Officer