Efrat, Israel - June 24, 2024  - I never thought, after sitting on Associated Federation Community Boards of Directors in Baltimore for 29 consecutive years, I would write this: The October 7 massacre changed me and it should change how our federations and Jewish communal organizations deal with tikkun olam.

Tikkun olam has always been part of my holistic Jewish being, my Jewish lens, and my essence. My parents were Holocaust survivors. Although my parents sent me to a yeshiva from kindergarten through 12th grade, they had to work on Shabbat and I grew up within their friend’s non-religious Holocaust survivor culture. My parents worked many hours in their corner grocery store; Mae Hedgpeth, a kind and gentle southern Black housekeeper, was there every day after school for me and my brother – my “surrogate” mom.

As I grew older, I passionately desired to lead an Orthodox life but I yearned to be a part of the “other” Jewish community, the one I grew up in, around all those who were not Jewish, always seeking to build bridges. Kiruv, or changing people, was never my goal. I believed in tikkun olam before it became in vogue decades ago.

THEN, OUR Jewish lives changed, for this generation, as the Holocaust did for my parent’s generation. Jews need to understand why the October 7 massacre by Hamas must change our view of tikkun olam. As tikkun olam grew dramatically over the decades in Jewish communal organizations, too many Jewish leaders allowed it to take on a life of its own. In too many cases, being Jewish was no longer the top priority.... Read More: JPost