The Sedarim of 2016 are past. Their magical moments will now become new entries into our respective memory banks of all holidays past.
At this juncture in our effort, one year after we began, it is important to remind our members and followers of our twofold task. We quote from our founding document. “We will be the catalysts for placing the subject of day school affordability back onto the community’s agenda. More importantly, we will be the catalysts for actually finding solutions.”
Some individuals doubt we will succeed. Some are skeptical. Doubts and skepticism are indeed warranted and justifiable given the extent of the task ahead of us.
But we will succeed. Eventually. And as we also note from our founding document, failure is not an option.
We are buttressed in our resolve by the recent comments by Rabbi Marc D. Angel, the head of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals in New York, on the Torah reading for the seventh day of Pesach.
“The 19th century Rabbi Israel Salanter once quipped: “When people come to a wall that they can’t go through, they stop. When Jews come to a wall that they can’t go through–they go through.”
“The Torah reading on the Seventh Day of Pessah includes the dramatic episode of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. When they reached the shore of the sea, they faced an existential crisis. Behind them, the Egyptian troops were coming to destroy them. In front of them was the Red Sea. They were trapped, with no obvious solution to their dilemma.
“The Midrash tells of various reactions among the Israelites as they pondered their imminent destruction. Some said: we should have stayed in Egypt! Others said: the situation is hopeless; we and our families will perish. Woe unto us.
“The common denominator of these approaches is that they led to psychological and emotional paralysis. Crying over what they could have done or should have done did not address their current crisis; it stifled their ability to cope. Declaring the situation to be hopeless led to despair. They came to a wall–and they stopped.
“The Midrash tells that Nahshon ben Aminadav, head of the tribe of Judah, walked into the Red Sea. When the water reached his neck, then the sea miraculously split–and the Israelites were saved. Nahshon is described as a great hero because he took things into his own hands; he acted decisively…
“Nahshon came to a wall–and he went through; and he brought the rest of the people through as well.
“Worrying that stems from regret that we should have or could have done things differently–such worrying is negative and self-defeating. The past is over, and we need to confront the crisis as it faces us now. We don’t have the option of returning to the past to undo decisions. (Hopefully, we can learn from these past decisions when we get through the current crisis, and contemplate how to make future decisions.) Likewise, it is not productive to sink into self-pity and passive despair. Indeed, despair feeds on itself and infects others with a spirit of helplessness.
“We should worry like Nahshon worried. We should not minimize the dangers and the risks; but we should deliberate on what is at stake and how we can overcome the difficulty. We should have confidence that if God has brought us this far, He will keep His promises to us and bring us ultimate redemption. We should be ready to act decisively, to think “out of the box”, to maintain forward momentum.”
To the doubters and skeptics we say: We have hit a wall. But we are going through it. Please join us.
The next major step for GAJE is to bring to the attention of the public some of our proposed new, reimagined, “out of the box” options for funding Jewish education.