Shabbat Shalom from CEO Nora Gorenstein

Dear Friend,

Like many of you, I am feeling a complicated range of emotions this week as we wrestle with recent events in Israel. Please see below for a message from our national network on this critical topic and this week’s Torah portion.

This Tuesday’s Dignity Grows packing party made quite a splash, with 200 bags packed to benefit local community members in need through the Amherst Survival Center and other local partners! With your help, Dignity Grows will continue to provide free hygiene products to neighbors in need while honoring the recipients’ dignity. To learn more about hosting a future packing party, please visit

We also have another wonderful community event coming up on Sunday, July 30: Breakfast with the Soldiers, from 10-11:30am. You can click here to register.

Don’t forget: registration is now open for Ride to Provide 2023, and I hope you will take a few moments to register to participate! This event brings together families, individuals, and organizations from across Western Massachusetts (and our partners in Israel and overseas) to raise money for the many needs of our community and partner organizations. Your support is crucial, and we look forward to your participation in any capacity!

Shabbat shalom,

Nora Gorenstein, CFRE
Chief Executive Officer

Please see below for an abbreviated version of this week’s National Young Leadership Cabinet Shabbat message:

Parashat Va’etchanan

This week’s Shabbat message was written by Brett Tanzman (7th Year, Greater MetroWest NJ) and Danielle Breslow Gross (7th Year, Phoenix) – 2023-24 Cabinet National Co-Chairs.

This has been a historic few weeks. Last week, from the United States House gallery, we witnessed a historic speech by President Isaac “Bougie” Herzog to a joint session of Congress. About 29 standing ovations. It was remarkable.  Earlier this week, after over 29 weeks of protests, we saw the Knesset’s decision to eliminate the Supreme Court’s ability to review the reasonableness of government decisions and appointments. All of this coinciding with “The Three Weeks” and culminating with Tisha B’av which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Tisha B’av – or the 9th of Av – is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. While Tisha B’av is a day on which it is customary to fast and avoid pleasurable activities, it is also a day of anticipation and hope.

It is said that the destruction of the Second Temple was due to baseless hatred and infighting. We are living in a time of serious strife within our community and throughout our society. The only answer to rebuilding our society – just as it was with the Temple – is unconditional love and unity – Ahavat Chinam

This is a time of year for introspection, and a renewed commitment to unity and rebuilding a brighter future. It is a time to celebrate the collective responsibility to learn from our past in order to shape a better future.

As we look to the future, it is fitting that this parshahVa’etchanan, emphasizes our responsibility as a people to pass on the teachings of the Torah to future generations.  In this parshah, there is a powerful continuation of Moses’ final address to the Israelites. Moses did not make it to the Promised Land, but handed off his leadership to Joshua as the Jewish people entered the Land of Milk and Honey. This is a reminder that while our lives are finite, our leadership transcends our lifetime. 

This parshah also includes one of the most central and fundamental prayers in Judaism, the Shema. This prayer is arguably the mission statement for the Jewish people in that it requires us to affirm G-d’s kingship and to teach our children about our values. It is the most essential declaration of the Jewish faith that we are commanded to teach our children.

Am Yisrael Chai! Shabbat Shalom!