“Voices of Wisdom” by Francine Klagsburn and “Light of Jewish Lamps” by Sidney Greenberg, two of the many books that I cherish from my father’s library, are propped next to my office computer at JPDS-NC. They sit on my desk as reminders to me that we at JPDS-NC are links in a long history; teachers, students, administrators and staff are connected to a rich past. For some of us it is a personal connection – a continuation of the work that we began as day school students and youth movement leaders years ago, or that our parents pursued as Jewish teachers, board members, and rabbis. For others, it is a communal connection – a commitment to doing good in the world and strengthening the Jewish community. For us all, it is a privilege.
I turn to those books often. In preparation for school community events, and as part of our advancement team culture, we try as much as possible to draw upon Jewish text and teaching to ground, inform and inspire our work. So, even in the midst of to-do lists, committee assignments, spreadsheets, and mail-merges, we dig into the deeper meaning behind our work as Jewish professionals. With Share the Nachas Day preparation, I came upon verse 32:7 in Deuteronomy: Remember the days of old, consider the years of ages past; Ask your father, he will inform you, Your elders, they will tell you. Last Friday, wisdom abounded in the halls of JPDS-NC. Grandparents shared stories of their travels around the world; special friends interpreted Peter Bruegel’s paintings and the myth of Icarus; guests delivered personal narratives about their life stories. From generation to generation (and back again), there was much knowledge to share.
There is dialogue in Jewish communal professional circles that the idea of “Jewish continuity” as a motivating factor for community engagement is no longer valid. To the contrary, I see it alive and well on Share the Nachas Day, not only in the voices of our elders, but also in the devotion of the volunteers who make this day happen. And I see a deeply rooted commitment from volunteers at so many other JPDS-NC programs like our Joseph musical, hot lunches and Annual Ru’ach campaign. Volunteers, like our guests at Share the Nachas Day, come together not only to enjoy their children and support their school, but also because of a deep sense of responsibility and connection to the Jewish community. JPDS-NC is a key link in that chain of peoplehood, and we are fortunate to have so many members of our community who celebrate this great cause-drawing strength from the past, enjoying the present, and working toward a stronger future.