From the Director’s Desk – November 2018
I fancy myself as someone with diverse interests. On social media, I try to follow varied topics, sources, and organizations to have a well-rounded view of what’s happening in the world. Sports, politics, culture, religion, and food are all some of my common hits. But Saturday night, when I looked at my phone, there was little diversity. Post after post after post was about one topic: Pittsburgh. In fact, at the risk of overstating, I think this was the first time in my life where my social media was dominated so significantly by one single topic.
The tragedy last weekend has reverberated throughout our community, our nation, and our world in untold ways, and I, like so many others, have been struggling to put it into a context that I can understand. Mixed emotions of grief, sadness, anger, and even occasional despair, have been a part of this week, all while pushing myself, yearning for other emotions like hope, comfort and resolve.
First, hope. When we turned the corner onto the road leading toward Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, DC, the line was quite literally a mile long. In fact, we got out of the Uber far from the door, so that we could join the queue. We stood in line for about 45 minutes, talking with people, reflecting, comforting. By the time we finally reached the front steps, the people outside informed us that more than 2,500 people were in the synagogue and that finally they had reached capacity. They simply couldn’t let anyone else in.
Now, I’ve been to many Jewish functions in my life. At nearly all of them, if you heard you couldn’t go in, you would then hear…well, how do I describe it? Kvetching? None of that here – people understood. We didn’t just understand – we were proud. Proud that so many people wanted to come together for this moment. A few minutes later, they announced that some of the clergy and other community leaders would be coming outside to lead an impromptu service on the steps for all who had gathered but couldn’t make it inside. Wow. That was community. Amazing.
Second, comfort. This morning, as I was leaving my home, one of my neighbors walked by and asked me how I was doing. I told her I was ok, struggling a bit, if I’m being honest. She said, “I’m not Jewish, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this tragedy. It doesn’t matter what religion you are. We’re in this together. Whatever you need, I’m here.” We don’t know each other that well, but I was struck at how powerful this simple statement could be. Those who are hurtful and hateful are far outnumbered by those who are caring, respectful, peaceful, and kind.
Which brings me to resolve. I think what has been most challenging during this week for me is how to channel the wave of emotions and thoughts into strategic and intentional action. In our statement on Tuesday evening, we wrote, “Each day at Capital Camps, we endeavor to nurture and grow responsible citizens of the world.” I believe in this sentiment wholeheartedly. It seems, though, more urgent than ever, that we continue this important work. If this week has taught us anything, it’s that we need more responsible citizens in this world.
I am incredibly proud to work for an organization that not only acknowledges that reality, but embraces it. And so, we will focus our attention on the hard work of growing responsible citizens. We will discuss, debate, educate, and act together as a community to raise the level of tolerance, peace and love. I’m ready to begin in earnest. I hope you’ll join me.