Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The essence

I had lunch recently with my colleague Noga Maliniak, one of our Federation's representatives in Israel. Noga served in the army for over twenty years, and was a shlicha - an emissary - several times in the United States.

Many of those who work in federation have a 'back-story.' A reason why we came. A reason why we fell in love with the calling. I didn't need to ask Noga her reason*: she's been dedicated all her life to Israel and the Jewish People.

Over lunch we discussed the struggle for pluralism and religious choice in Israel. Greater MetroWest has a long and proud history of standing at the forefront of this struggle. And Noga's story is the essence of what we support. When her daughter was approaching Bat-Mitzvah age, she turned to Noga and said, "... and will I go up to read from the Torah?"

And Noga, born and raised in Israel, never having questioned what she was told was the 'only way' ... was about to say 'no.' And then she stopped and checked herself. "Let me find out," she said.
And she found out. And she learned.

Seeing that there was no viable alternative in Rosh Ha'ayin, Noga invited friends round. And the friends invited friends. And fifty people turned up for shabbat services. And those shabbat services became the progressive congregation of Rosh Ha'ayin - a pluralistic, egalitarian community that supports and upholds Jewish tradition and learning.

The kind of Jewish life we help build at home, in Israel and around the world.

* But you should. Take her out to lunch when she's next here, or when you go to Israel.

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