Shalom Austin Celebrating Milestones
After several weeks of counting, we reach the holiday of Shavuot, a time when we celebrate the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, a pivotal moment in our ancestor’s journey through the wilderness. Strategically positioned before summer fully emerges, Shavuot becomes a time of great reflection on the year that has passed.
As we reflect on May and enter June, we celebrate many milestones in our community. During this time, students across the country will officially matriculate to the next stage of life, from preschool graduation to receiving post-graduate degrees. We congratulate the pre-K students at the Early Childhood Program and the eighth grade students at Austin Jewish Academy. We thank the schools on our campus for instilling a strong sense of Jewish identity, Jewish values and self-confidence and building Jewish leaders for the future of our community.
We also celebrate those people in our community who have dedicated their professional life to serving the Jewish community. Margo Sack, after two plus decades of incredible service to Texas Hillel, will retire from her position as the Director of Jewish Student Life at the end of June. I had the personal privilege of working with Margo during my tenure as Executive Director, and I experienced firsthand the profound impact she has had on building the next generation of Jewish leaders. Many of the students she mentored are serving in leadership roles right here in Austin, both within and outside the Jewish community. While Margo may be retiring from Jewish professional life, the impact of her sacred work will be felt for many generations.
This past month, the community gathered to honor and celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel. On May 2, 2017, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), a historic moment took place on our campus - Consul General of Israel to the Southwest United States, Ambassador Eitan Levon and Jewish leaders from across the state watched Gov. Abbott sign the anti-BDS bill into law, a bipartisan sponsored and supported legislation. Later that day over 350 community members joined together to celebrate Israel and its 69 years of existence.
Finally, we look forward to summer when we open camp at the JCC to close to 1000 kids, led by amazing counselors and schlichim from Israel. Many of our youth will attend Jewish overnight camps, such as Camp Young Judaea and Greene Family Camp. These immersive Jewish experiences will instill our kids with great pride and joy in their Jewish identity.
We indeed have much to celebrate in our community. And we look forward to many more opportunities to celebrate together in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Rabbi Daniel Septimus
Shalom Austin CEO