This Shabbat, we read the penultimate Torah portion of the Book of Genesis and the dramatic conclusion of the story of Joseph. During Judah’s impassioned speech pleading for his brother Benjamin’s life, he explains that he “pledged himself” to their father and promised to bring Benjamin home.
The Hebrew word Judah uses, arav, is at the heart the Jewish teaching “kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all of Israel are bound up with and mutually responsible for one another.” Arevut means that we are in this together, united and connected across differences, geographies, and time; we are one People, one extended family, with a shared fate, shared destiny, and shared responsibility for one another.
As horrific and challenging as these past few months have been — the worst for Israel and the Jewish People in my lifetime — we have also seen and felt the power of arevut in Israel, here in our own community, and around the Jewish world. It is the reason why Israeli soldiers are risking their lives to defend their country and the Jewish homeland; why so many of us have tied blue ribbons around trees to raise awareness about the hostages; and why hundreds of thousands of us gathered in vigils across the country and then on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
It is the reason why so many of our incredible Jewish day schools and early childhood centers have taken in children from Israeli families, as I wrote in my recent Jewish Journal Hanukkah article.
As 2023 concludes, we face enormous challenges both in Israel and here in America. We are fighting for our lives, and for the values that have enabled us to survive and thrive both here and in Israel, the two centers of Jewish civilization in the 21st century.
What gives me hope that we will persevere and overcome these challenges is the arevut that has been reawakened. We know that we are part of something larger than ourselves, that the bonds that unite us are stronger than the forces that threaten to tear us apart.
Arevut fuels the CJP Annual Campaign that helps power Jewish life and our Jewish community. It motivates the extraordinary generosity with which so many of you contribute both to CJP and other amazing communal organizations. We are able to respond to crises because of the people who are building and sustaining this community every single day. Supporting them has never been more important.
As we look toward 2024, may this arevut continue to give us the resilience and strength to keep moving forward together with courage and hope.
I am humbled and inspired by this community and so deeply grateful to be building our future with you.
P.S. If you’re inspired by arevut and the importance of building and maintaining the health and vibrancy of our community — please consider making a year-end gift to our Annual Campaign. Your gift goes toward fighting antisemitism, nurturing the next generation, supporting the Jewish people in Israel and around the world, and more.