2018-01-03 / Voice at the Shore

A momentous year is underway

FEDERATION AT THE SHORE
KIRK WISEMAYER
Executive Director Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties

As Jews, we learn from childhood that ‘eighteen’ is a very special number. It is the numerical value of the Hebrew word ‘chai’ (life), and signifies all kinds of ‘mazal’ (luck). We make gifts on special occasions and to charity in multiples of eighteen because our very use of the number in such instances imbues our gifts with a special, almost mystical importance that the gift itself cannot impart.

Given the importance of this number in our tradition, what might the importance of the year

2018 be?

Could it mean our Jewish community might come together as never before, leave the past behind us to significantly grow our assets, and experience remarkable vigor and vitality in Jewish life?

As nice as it would be to experience such a miracle with the ticking of the clock, or a change of date, it is extremely unlikely that our world will change overnight. It is, however, very possible that 2018 could be the beginning of a new era, a year during which we begin the work required to permanently transform our Jewish community for the better, and for the long haul. Would this be any less miraculous? Would it lessen the significance or power of chai (eighteen)?

I think not. In fact, I believe making a start, taking a small step, is not less miraculous, rather more so. It is a step into the unknown, a leap of faith, an act of courage. It is visionary.

What if, in 2018, we found trust again? What if we let bygones be bygones, and were to concede that those we doubted, questioned, or disagreed with in the past were not malicious, but may have had the best of intentions? What if we were to act not in the best interest of any single organization, but in the collective interest of all organizations? This cannot happen overnight, but 2018 can be the beginning of a new and brighter era, and a stronger future.

LIFE & LEGACY, an initiative of Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and one of which you will hear much more in the weeks and months ahead, is a first step. The program’s success is twofold: It sets goals for our community to help us to grow our assets for the future, and teaches us, in very practical and real terms, that achieving these goals is only possible through partnership and collaboration. We succeed together, or we fail together. The choice is ours.

It is here. It is underway, and 2018 will indeed be a momentous year, but only because of the tangible, meaningful, and substantive ways we choose to make it so. Happy 2018! Happy New Year, and here is to a year that is miraculous for no other reason than the first step we take together on a bold new path. s

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