The Jewish Community as a Beautiful Tapestry

The prolific pop music composer and lyricist Carole King wrote: My life has been a tapestry Of rich and royal hue An everlasting vision Of the ever-changing view A wond'rous woven magic In bits of blue and gold A tapestry to feel and see Impossible to hold The way in which Carole described her life as a tapestry could easily transfer to the Jewish community, with our rich and royal history with its many expressions and experiences that have spanned the globe for millennia. “A tapestry to feel and see- impossible to hold” — much like Jewish life where we have passed down our customs, laws, recipes and values from generation to generation, as we understand that we are but a link in a vast but delicate chain. I love the idea of ‘tapestry’ to describe our Jewish experience. Another art related word that seems to fit is ‘mosaic.' While I have been somewhat aware of other Jewish experiences than my own Ashkenazi North American upbringing, my recent trip to Israel expanded my horizons in truly magical ways that I hope will create pathways toward bringing a broader understanding of varied Jewish experience to New Haven. In July 2015, then Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave his famous “four tribes” speech where he described the four tribes to include the Haredi, secular, religious and Arab. After a week diving deeper into meetings with various sectors of Israeli society, I learned that there are even more “tribes” driving the tapestry or mosaic of Israeli life, including the Mizrachi (Sephardi Jews who migrated from North Africa), those in the periphery in the direct line of rocket attacks (Sderot and its environs), religious Zionists, Jewsrailis/Israelism, and more sub-cultures with whom we simply didn’t have time available to meet. As we explored the Mizrachi culture in Israel through food, music and an understanding of their history and experiences prior to the waves of Aliyah (resettlement in Israel), I experienced a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). It wasn’t really fear, as Mizrachi culture is available to experience throughout Israel. In fact, just listening to any pop music today, you will hear undertones of Mizrachi music. My FOMO related more retrospective, as I understood that there was so much joyful Jewish experience that I was not exposed to during my upbringing in New Jersey. The mosaic of the Jewish people represents many different lived experiences and pathways. As part of our continuing work to bring our recently completed strategic plan to life, and with the support of the Seedlings Foundation, the Jewish Federation recently appointed Rabbi Joshua Pernick as our JCRC director and rabbi in residence. (For an interview with Josh, see page 14). Josh will concentrate on expanding our important work in the area of community relations and will also work diligently to enhance and strengthen our Jewish education support and programming across the community. A main focus for Josh will be directed towards broadening our efforts of inclusion so that all people feel warm and welcomed as valued members of our Jewish community. As our community continues to emerge from the pandemic, I hope more of us will explore the beautiful mosaic of Jewish experience available throughout Jewish New Haven and in doing so finds joy and beauty and belonging. Enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer (not Carole King!) as the High Holy Days cannot be far away.

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