As we get ready for Shabbat, I am preparing to join nine leaders of our community and 190 Jewish leaders from across North America on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to India. You are probably asking, “Why India? And why travel with so many people?” Throughout our history, Jews have lived almost everywhere in the world — from Kiev to Buenos Aires, Paris, Havana, and beyond. As such, wherever I am traveling, I’m always learning about our story and seeing firsthand the challenges that Jews (even in the smallest and most remote areas) face.
I am really looking forward to visiting Cochin, which has the oldest Jewish community in India dating back to the early 12th century. Many Jews fled Spain in 1492 and settled in this community, which had eight synagogues at the time. I am also excited about spending quality time with lay and professional leaders from the United States and Canada. It is in these open conversations that I listen, share, and learn about challenges we share and discuss strategies to address them. We have much to learn from our history and from the diverse communities that we, as Jews, live in today.
This Shabbat, I am speaking at Young Israel of North Beverly Hills. When I speak in synagogues, I try to contextualize our work with the week’s Torah portion. This week we read Parashat Ki Tisa. Moses faces an almost insurmountable challenge upon his return from his 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai. By truly listening to both G-d and the Israelites, Moses finds the way to lead his people from chaos to the Promised Land. Listening is an important facet of leadership and essential for our work at the Federation. We are committed to listening to you — our supporters and partners — and to those in our community who depend on us.
While I’m away, I hope you’ll continue to listen to Jay’s 4 Questions, our Federation’s weekly podcast that highlights thought leaders and influencers from around the world. We recently hosted Phil Rosenthal of Everybody Loves Raymond and the Netflix hit Somebody Feed Phil, as well as Sal Litvak of the Accidental Talmudist. Next week’s episode will be “out of this world” with Garrett Reisman — former NASA Astronaut, Senior Advisor to SpaceX, and Professor at USC’s Department of Astronautical Engineering. As the first Jewish crewman at the International Space Station, Garret shares his experience in space with us — an inspiring conversation for us all. We have an incredible and exciting lineup of guests in the next few weeks with new episodes premiering every Wednesday morning. If you have podcast questions or feedback, please email AWeiner@JewishLA.org.
Shabbat Shalom and Namaste,
President & CEO