Sometimes I wonder if any of this matters. Unless you’re saving lives on a regular basis (and incredibly, some of you are), if you’re working in a field such as arts, media, or even communal service, you may occasionally question your contribution to humanity. Boats full of migrants and refugees are sinking in the Mediterranean. And I’m stressing out about a magazine?
The launch of Jewish in Seattle coincided with the High Holidays. As I write this, Yom Kippur looms in my consciousness. This is the time of year we reconcile ourselves to reality, within and without. Yom Kippur is a day of brutal self-honesty. Who are we? How can we improve? Not just until the first sip of orange juice after the fast, when we’re compelled to stuff our faces and move on. Continually.
Feedback for the first issue came in waves, starting with those zip codes that got it first. (Hopefully, we resolved the postal snag.) Overall, it has been tremendously positive. I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has offered resources on the enormous subject of homelessness, as well as to share some additional notes provided by Jewish Family Service. JFS offers crucial help to families in the Jewish community facing a housing crisis or the threat of eviction through the Homeless to Renter program, the Polack Food Bank (which has a kosher option), holiday gift baskets, and emergency funding. It also offers counseling and services to Jewish community members dealing with domestic violence, substance abuse, and disabilities — issues closely linked to homelessness and housing instability. If you need help, or know someone who does, JFS is there. Maybe this information will tangibly help someone. I only hope the story brought more sensitivity to the way we interact with people in need.
A few minutes after the close of Rosh Hashanah, I took a deep breath and checked my e-mail. A quick glance at the senders and subject lines told me that nothing catastrophic had happened over the holiday. But one e-mail came from a woman I’d never heard of. With a small surge of anxiety I tapped on the message. She wished me a happy holiday, and went on to share that she and her husband had read the first issue cover to cover, then over again. Not only that, but she said they used the “shul shopping” guide to check out some new congregations, and through it her kids learned about the Temple De Hirsch Sinai Tribe event, Refresh: 5776.
I was floored. What more could I ask for? Jewish in Seattle made a difference in someone’s life on a practical, spiritual level. God willing, I have many years ahead of me. But I will never be a doctor. I am a writer. In these moments of self-honesty, we recognize our strengths, and where they best fit, and how we can improve upon them so that we can use them for the betterment of the world — however small or large that world is in which we operate.
Tizku l’shanim rabot. May we all be blessed with many years — lived to the fullest of our potential.
Emily K. Alhadeff