"You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt." This verse from Exodus recalls the story of the upcoming Pesach (Passover) holiday and is still relevant today, even (or perhaps especially) within our own Jewish community.
In January, we were privileged to host Rabbi Reni Dickman of InterfaithFamily. The sessions she facilitated were incredibly powerful, particularly the panel discussion featuring members of our community who belong to interfaith families. The journey that these spouses, parents, grandparents, and children navigate is already complex, so it is incumbent upon us to be as open and welcoming as we can. There should be no "us" and "them," just one big "us."
As Rabbi Reni reminded us, "inclusion is inclusion is inclusion." Instead of focusing on one segment of the community at a time, being inclusive means being open to everyone all at once, regardless of identification or affiliation (or lack thereof). Jewish tradition invites us to not only welcome the "stranger," but we also recognize those who have been with us the entire time whose intersections we may have overlooked. I encourage members of our community who identify as LGBTQ+, for example, to check out the upcoming LGBTQ mission to Israel, and young families in Indy's northern suburbs are invited to any and all of our PJ Baby Connect events.
I appreciate gathering with old friends. And I love seeing new faces. Over the new few months, JFGI and the Jewish community are hosting events that are open to everyone, and we would love to see you there. From Israel in the Park to Purimpalooza and "The Choices We Make" with Jeannie Opdyke Smith to The Soap Myth with Ed Asner, you are welcome.
Do you have a great idea for our community? Let us know! JFGI's Education department is now accepting applications for 2019-2020 Innovation and Collaboration Grants.
In our spaces, we strive to let people be human Jewishly. We believe that allowing people to be exactly who they are is good for all involved. No matter where you came from, you found your way to our community, and we're glad you're here.
Debra Barton Grant, Executive Vice President and CEO