Unity Builds a Stronger Community
This Passover is a tough one for me. My Dad passed away on Dec 25th, my mom has Alzheimer’s and is living in the cobwebs of a different reality. My husband, Matthew, and I have led the Seder for many years but were always bookended by a vital Senior presence. We have now become the “Senior” presence. Our family Passover tradition is built on a foundation of “Unity.” Matthew and I have been married 29 years but ours is a second marriage and we have raised a blended family. Yet, family lines expand during the Seder. Every family member, no matter how long ago they were “family” is invited and shows up. This tradition communicates the values of love, respect, acceptance, and tolerance. This year’s Seder also brings hope and optimism with two beautiful grandchildren in the house!
As I look beyond my personal Passover experience, I see a thriving “united” Jewish Atlanta community. This is reflected in the 300 people in Georgia signing up for the Israel Federation trip that begins right after Passover. This is also reflected in the work JF&CS is doing in partnership with Federation and a multi-generational group of funders and community leaders to address the challenges of young people’s mental health and well-being with the new BeWell initiative. The strength of the partnership gives us hope that we can in fact meet this crisis and bring healing to the forefront.
And then I look beyond, and I see “Unity” in the streets of Israel. However, this example of “Unity” is in opposition and in stark contrast to the unity I reference above. We can look across the globe and lament the “disunity” we are seeing in Israel, or we can celebrate the fact that our beloved Israel is also a democracy and therefore provides citizens with the right to “Unite” and express the strength of their disagreement.
The times we live in are complicated. I am called to lead with my values as my North Star—life is messy, and we cannot shy away from conflicts. We have the strength to bring love, respect, acceptance, and tolerance to all we say and do. That is my personal pledge. May the streets of Israel be safe and welcoming for all of us hoping to be there very soon! May our Atlanta organizations strive to work together as a united community.
Terri Bonoff is the chief executive officer for Jewish Family and Career Services of Atlanta.