August 30, 2022

I have always been amazed at our space program. The idea is that so many people work for years, even decades, to send something they have made into space. The anticipation must be exciting, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, anxiety-ridden, and many other emotions happening all at once as the countdown begins. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…LIFT-OFF. It is special knowing that some of our fellow community members have experienced this on various aspects of missions they have worked on at JPL.


There is something exhilarating about a countdown. Right now, the Jewish world is in the midst of one of those countdowns, albeit possibly not as exciting as the ball dropping in NYC on New Year's Eve, but still a countdown nonetheless. The countdown I am referring to began a few days ago as the Hebrew calendar switched from the month of Av to the month of Elul.


As Elul is the last month in the Jewish year before we celebrate Rosh Hashanah (our Jewish New Year), it is customary to use these final days of the year to reflect on the year we are about to conclude. Because of this focus, Elul is often regarded as a month of teshuvah (forgiveness) or using this time to return to a "clean slate."


I appreciate that our tradition provides us this opportunity to take a step back to think and evaluate how our year has gone and whether we were the best us we could be. And if not, we are provided a road map of what we can do to make the year ahead better. The literal translation of the word teshuvah means to turn, or another similar meaning is to return to who we can be.


I have been thinking about this idea recently in the work I am currently doing here at the Jewish Federation. We are spending some time trying to get a better sense of the impact we are making through the work we do for our community. It was one of the reasons why we conducted the Community Survey last March, as we wanted to see and hear whether we were meeting the expectations of what the community was looking for us to do.


Along these lines, I would love it if you would be willing to schedule a time to speak with me and share how our Jewish Federation has helped or impacted you or your family. Or, if you prefer, you can share your thoughts by emailing me at


Your thoughts, explanations, and/or stories will help us better understand how what we do is helping people like you. So often, when you are the ones planning or running a program or activity, you have an idea of what you hope will happen but are not aware of the actual impact it has. Hearing from you and having you share it in your own words will give us invaluable insight as we work and look at how we can better work towards fulfilling our mission to build community by strengthening and enhancing Jewish life.


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