407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

As we come near the end of May, the end of the school year, and the beginning of summer, it has certainly been an eventful few weeks.  From the hate group that came to both the Jewish Community Campus in Maitland and Chabad of South Orlando to the more than 4,000 rockets fired by Hamas into Israel to the end of the school year and preparations for Camp at Machane Ohev and Camp J at both the Rosen and Roth Family JCCs, Brave CHOICES, J Ball/Big Night In for the Roth Family JCC, the Party FORE the People at the Congregation for Reform Judaism this Saturday night, the upcoming Jewish Academy of Orlando premiere of Star Warts – The Umpire Strikes Back, the upcoming B’ri’ut panel on Substance Abuse in the Jewish community, the release of the Pew Study on America’s Jewish population, graduation ceremonies at both the Rosen and Roth Family JCCs ECLC, the Jewish Academy of Orlando, Orlando Torah Academy, UCF, Rollins, Stetson, and both OCPS and SCPS, it has been an incredible month.  I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Why did I just spend all this time writing about the events in May in Jewish Orlando?  It’s because I believe in our community.  We are large and growing – the upcoming results from our 2020 Orlando Jewish Community Study will show just how large – and diverse.  There are truly options for everybody to get involved.  As we witness the violence in Israel, the antisemitism worldwide, in the United States, in Florida, and even here in Orlando, it’s easy to think that it’s better not to participate or that there is nothing worth participating.  And that’s where you are WRONG!  Our synagogues, Jewish agencies and organizations are fille with meaningful, interesting, and fun content.  This summer will be filled with opportunities to join together in person once again.  I encourage you to take a look at what is offered in our amazing Jewish community.  I encourage to take a risk and try out something that looks interesting that you may not have tried before.  I encourage you to really give our Jewish community a chance to show you how special we are and how important you are.

As I sat at my youngest son Matthew’s graduation from High School this week, I found myself thinking about both how fast the years have gone by and how much we have been enriched by our Jewish community.  The USY, BBYO, and JSU events attended, basketball and working out at the JCC, the time I have spent learning with local Rabbis, the friends created and friendships deepened.  There are times during the year where we get to reflect and the changing of the seasons is one.  As we transition to summer, as more people get vaccinated and we are able to gather in person, as mask requirements get lifted, I encourage you to invest in our Jewish community.  Your return will be far beyond anything you expect.

Shabbat Shalom