After the horrendous massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, I was drawn to attend the vigil at the Islamic Center of Long Island. The mix of sadness I felt for the victims and their families coupled with the emotional uplift from coming together with brothers and sisters of different faiths challenged me to become more involved.
B’Yachad is the Hebrew word for coming together. The mass shootings and other signs of racial hatred of the past few years have made even clearer to me that true unity between people of different faiths, races and cultures is vital to the survival of our country. Now more than ever we must seek out our similarities rather than fear each other’s differences. Rabbi Jerome Davidson, my childhood Rabbi and an original co-founder of IFI, taught me as a student that we are all one and our color, creed and religious background are just characteristics.
Throughout my life I have been driven to social action. Whether it was as a patient aide, community leader, Special Educator or Big Sister, my goal was to support others and try to make their lives better.
As a 20-year member of Temple Or Elohim in Jericho, I participated in all of their community-centric activities, supported food drives and charity fundraising, chaired the Shabbat Under The Stars BBQ and service, organized the Purim carnival, Hanukah Party, Annual Concert and many other events which brought us together as a community. I’ve also had the pleasure of teaching our history and traditions to 5-8- year old in the religious school.
I’ve learned through the years that not sitting still but actively participating helped me achieve my aspirations and that fighting for your beliefs in a peaceful manner can help bring about real change. Attending rallies and vigils, joining community organizations and participating in interfaith activities are all ways we can collectively improve our world for ourselves and our children.
A few years ago, I became involved in the Jewish Community Relations Council and began working with neighborhood leaders from other faiths. Since then, I became involved in the IFI Passover Seder and in publicizing Unity Events at the Mid Island YJCC. Becoming a member of the IFI Advisory Board is another important step toward both enhancing my religious life and enabling me to help enrich the lives of others.