by Adam Silver
(Calgary) – This time of the year often inspires us to reflect back on the year that was, as well as envision the year that’s ahead of us. More often than not, we are quick to develop a list of things left unfinished, or not even started. Sometimes, we discount our achievements because we are either too quickly looking forward to the next year, or due to the fact they might have turned out other than we planned.
This last year, in particular, has been very difficult for many in our Jewish community. The never-ending COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation and loss it continued to bring, as well as the tensions we experienced in the spring as Israel defended her citizens from Hamas terror attacks which resonated back home with a barrage of increased antisemitic sentiment, made 2021 very challenging.
I am hoping, though, that you will join me in celebrating and being grateful for the milestones we did reach, the meaningful things we did achieve, and the time we might have taken to reflect, slow down, and be appreciative. We found new ways to express our Judaism, and didn’t let distance or limitations of gathering with others stop us from having Pesach Seders, welcoming Shabbat, participating in virtual or in-person programs and lectures, and lighting Chanukah candles.
Sadly, we also had to find new ways to mourn, to spend virtual visits with family and friends great distances apart, and we haven’t been able to fully gather as a kehillah, a community.
One thing that became clear is that we can never be thankful enough, never express enough gratitude. So, I would like to acknowledge our amazing Federation staff team and volunteer leaders, along with all of our community’s dedicated and talented Jewish communal professionals, volunteers, and educators. I know our community is well aware of the pressure and demands placed on them and on our organizations this year, and the staff, boards, and volunteer committee members have worked extremely hard to ensure Jewish Calgary continued to thrive.
Of course, an equal Todah Rabah should be expressed to anyone who still participated in community – those who gave generously, who attended events, who found ways to “do Jewish” in their homes in innovative ways, and to those who checked in on neighbours, friends, and family to keep them connected.
As we savour a last pause before 2021 leaves us, and we rustle up the energy and excitement we require to begin 2022 with a strong start, I’m hoping all of our plans include being counted in community. I’m dreaming of a year filled with celebrations and successes, with mini and large milestones, and with even more opportunities to come together as Am Echad, one people. While we cannot predict what the continuation of COVID-19 will mean for our new year, we can and should certainly rededicate ourselves to being even more active in our community, more generous, more caring – and we should live proud Jewish lives… together.
L’fum tzara agra – according to the effort is the reward (Pirkei Avot – Ethics of Our Fathers, 5:26), meaning we must put in the work and care to enhance the payoff of our efforts. As members of a special community, that of Jewish Calgary, I am inviting you to join me, our incredible staff team, and our wonderful board and committee volunteers in action, in caring, and in making a difference. Only when we leverage everyone’s abilities and spirit will we fully live up to our potential.
Wishing you and yours a safe and enjoyable close to 2021, and an inspiring beginning to 2022.
Adam Silver, CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation