From the Shalom Austin CEO: Strength of Austin Community is in its Connectedness
Over the past month or so, I have been truly inspired by our community convening to learn, celebrate and remember. Individuals, families, organizations and synagogues collaborate in a way in Austin that is truly unique to the American Jewish landscape, thanks to the vision of the Dell Jewish Community Campus and the sacred work that is done on a daily basis on and off the campus by so many in our community.
Beginning with Purim, celebrated in synagogues and on the University of Texas campus by thousands in our community; to IGNITE! when over 1,200 community members came together to celebrate and support our community; to Pesach (Passover), celebrated in thousands of homes across our region; to Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) when over 500 people came together to never forget; to Austin Jewish Film Festival and Shalom Austin screening of Ben Gurion, Epilogue to learn more about the life and legacy of Ben Gurion when over 250 people attended; to Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) when the Israeli and American Jewish communities came together to remember those who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel; to Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), when close to 1,000 people convened to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday – the strength of our community was palpable.
As we approach Shavuot, arguably the end of the spring Jewish holiday season when we celebrate the giving of the Torah, we should take a moment to reflect on how we want to bring Torah into the world through our actions. I encourage all of us to seek out opportunities to learn together by participating in Tikkun Leil Shavuot (all night study) at Congregation Agudas Achim or at one of our community’s synagogues. It is there we learn our purpose in the world by immersing ourselves in the sacred text with conversation and reflection.
Finally, at the end of this month, another school year will conclude and summer will begin. Thousands of our children will attend Jewish camps both here in Central Texas and throughout North America. Many of our teens, college students and young adults will travel to Israel and around the world on Birthright and other Jewish organized trips. The opportunity for our youth to participate in immersive Jewish experiences will have a profound effect on their Jewish identities and connection to Jewish life.
May our convening together on Shavuot to study our sacred texts inspire and guide us on how to build a stronger, more vibrant and relevant community for all who engage in Jewish life.
Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus