I was very pleased to participate in the convening of JDC’s Active Jewish Teens (AJT) program in Kharkov, Ukraine. It was a special experience to interact with hundreds of inspired young people, many of them just finding their roots after decades of hiding. These young people are smart, motivated, Jewish-minded and want to act — to volunteer to help elderly, youth and to rebuild Jewish life. How inspiring.
Below are the remarks I shared at the start of Shabbat. As one of the few American participants, I felt a special bond and closeness with these amazing young people and their journey, which is far from over, and was thrilled to be able to share with them my admiration and support.
It is my honor to be here today. I thank JDC for this opportunity.
As a child, my dream was never to be a fireman, a football player, an actor, or a cosmonaut; it was simply to have the resources and opportunity to be forever engaged with the welfare and future of my people — the Jewish People—throughout the world.
“I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” (Genesis 12, verse 3)
Indeed — YOU from the great Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union (FSU) — are PROOF of Hashem’s words here to Avraham. You contribute beyond your numbers in every field in every land and have played an outsized role in the miracle which is today’s Medinat Yisrael.
As I use my Google and WhatsApp, created by Jewish emigrants from the FSU to America, your brilliance and ability — possibly because you ALWAYS had to strive to be that much better — has changed our world.
By self-selecting to be an Active Jewish Teen and by being here today, you are casting your vote with the future of our People. I am very much looking forward to our Shabbat together.
May Hashem bless you always!