November 2021 Keeping Connected
As we enter the month of November, during which we celebrate the secular holiday of Thanksgiving, I am feeling a huge amount of gratitude. Let me share with you why I am feeling this way. But first a story….
Jewish tradition tells us about an old man who is planting a fruit tree. A passer-by named Honi wonders why he would bother to plant a tree that won’t bear fruit until decades after the man is dead. The old man responds, “As my father planted before me, so do I plant for my children.” This Talmudic story teaches us about the Jewish ethical teaching of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that means loosely, “repair the world.” There is a traditional Jewish belief that everyone has an obligation to leave this world better than they found it. Jim Friedman, who works for the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati writes, “What we give is not so much for our own enjoyment, but to sustain and improve the world for the current as well as the next generation. It is really not a choice, but rather a requirement, to make our entire community a better place for everyone.”
Congregation Shalom is blessed to have many people who take this teaching to heart and have shared their time, gifts and financial resources with our community so that future generations can benefit. Recently, our congregation was blessed to receive a gift to establish a new fund: The James and Carol Herscot Fund to Enhance Jewish Life in the Greater Lowell Community. Mr. Herscot grew up in Lowell and although he does not live in the area anymore, he and his wife want to help the Jewish community of Lowell and the surrounding area thrive in the future. In particular they want to help those people who have difficulty finding a doorway into Jewish life find that welcome. This year we will be able to use some of the monies in this fund to sponsor monthly programs for Jewish families in the greater Lowell area. Our next event will be on Saturday morning November 6th at 10:30 am. Please see the publicity that is in our weekly updates. One does not need to be a member of Congregation Shalom to participate in these events.
With the gift that Mr. and Mrs. Herscot have given to the congregation we are also hoping to start some social programs for teens and young adults who are on the autism spectrum or have special needs. We are working with an organization called TILL to develop these programs. We will be modelling the program on their Junior Springboard programs which is held closer into Boston. TILL describes these programs at their website: “Springboard Social Club is a unique social membership club for teens and adults with learning differences, Asperger’s syndrome and other social support needs. Through this welcoming, supportive environment, members build confidence, expand upon their social life and develop new interests.” If you are interested in being involved in this effort please let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This program will be open not only to the members of our congregation, but to others in the Greater Lowell area.
Wishing you and your family a joyful Thanksgiving,
Rabbi Shoshana Perry