Nourishing Ourselves for the Year Ahead

Entering the High Holidays isn’t easy right now, more than six months into the upheaval and loss Covid has brought and with our world literally on fire. But having just spent the past few hours with the JFN community, grappling with some of the biggest ideas of our time, I feel a bit more nourished, a bit more ready.

This week we hosted the first of what we hope becomes an annual JFN tradition: Aspire, a pre-High Holidays gathering. This afternoon of learning featured some of our leading Jewish thinkers and rabbis in deep conversation about this critical moment in Jewish history. For those of you who weren’t able to join us, we’ll be sharing video highlights in the coming weeks.

Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum of HaMidrasha at Oranim set the mood with a beautiful d’var Torah. JFN’s Andres Spokoiny and Hadar’s Rabbi Shai Held engaged in an almost hevruta-like discussion about how the Jewish community can respond to the existential crises this pandemic is unleashing and about American Jewry’s hunger for richer, more substantive Jewish programming. Finally, Manny Menchel of the William Davidson Foundation facilitated a fascinating conversation with Rabbis Sharon Brous, Elka Abrahamson and Elliot Cosgrove, that touched on everything from the flourishing of virtual Jewish spiritual engagement to how Jewish philanthropists can balance the needs of the Jewish community with the substantial demands and challenges facing the larger world right now. As Rabbi Brous wisely noted, “giving is a muscle,” and we all need to give more both within and outside the Jewish community.

Thank you to everyone who participated and who made this gathering possible. Wishing all of you a sweet, healthy, and happy new year! Shana tova!