It is September, a traditional time for new beginnings. We have sent our children and grandchildren off to school with our heartfelt hopes that they will learn and grow academically and socially, prepared to make their mark upon this complex and challenging world.
How fitting that September also marks the Jewish High Holidays — the holiest period in the Hebrew calendar. These 10 Days of Awe, like the school year, are both based on a "3-R approach." In the classroom, Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic are considered to be the building blocks of a solid foundation for learning. In the synagogues, where many Jews will gather with their friends and families to observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the liturgy emphasizes Reflection, Reparations and Renewal. Each and every one of us is asked to look deep inside our souls to reflect on our accomplishments and our shortcomings. We must examine whom we may have hurt or wronged by our words, actions or deeds, and then take the steps necessary to begin 5770 as more caring and compassionate people.
These are the two traits that bring us closer to God and to our fellow Jews — the very goals of this repentant process. As we perform the many mitzvot of High Holiday observance — saying the prayers, giving tzedakah, opening our homes and hearts to family and friends, and teaching these time-honored traditions to a new generation of Jews — we lay the foundation for a strong and vibrant Jewish future.
At the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, together with our donors, we truly perform mitzvot every day of the Jewish calendar. During these economically challenging times, Federation funds programs and initiatives that help older adults live safely and more cost-effectively in their own homes, bring health-care services to those most vulnerable, prepare and deliver food and emergency supplies to withstand winter-weather alerts and countless other critical support services that offer a lifeline to Jews in Greater Philadelphia, in Israel, in the former Soviet Union and around the world.
This New Year, you can experience the satisfaction of joining with your fellow Jews in a powerful day of hands-on mitzvah-making. Reserve Sunday, Nov. 1 on your calendars and resolve to participate in Mitzvah Mania '09 — Federation's third annual day of community service and social action. Throughout the area, there will be countless opportunities to transform communities and change lives.
To learn more about this important opportunity to act on the promises and commitments made during the Days of Awe, visit: www.jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania. Take this opportunity with your children and grandchildren to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. What a wonderful way to begin the New Year and to create long-lasting family memories.
In so doing, you will help to make 5770 a happier, healthier and more hopeful year for us all.
L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu!
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.
Len Barrack, President
Ira M. Schwartz, CEO