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Our JCPodcast for Thanksgiving!

Welcome to the second episode of the JCPodcast! Every few weeks, in lieu of a written D’var Torah, Rabbi Deena and Rabbi Jacob will share a brief discussion about an interesting and relevant Jewish topic. This week, in honor of Thanksgiving, we’re talking about Jewish practices that help us cultivate and express our gratitude. Listen to the podcast here and check out the animated version on our Youtube channel!

If you’re looking to give back during this season of gratitude, we hope you will join us to volunteer. Check out our community service opportunities here! 

We hope that you and your loved ones had a meaningful Thanksgiving. We’re so grateful for our JCP community. 

Shabbat shalom, 

Deena & Jacob

Real Estate Cocktail Event

Calling all commercial real estate professionals in our community! Join us in the Meatpacking District for a discussion and cocktails as we explain the needs of JCP and start building connections for our future.

Location provided upon RSVP. 

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Private Viewing of the Nova Music Festival Exhibition

Join a private viewing of the Nova Music Festival Exhibition before normal operating hours. Walk through a powerful exhibit to bear witness to the horrific events that occurred on 10/7 at the Nova Music Festival. The Exhibition is located downtown at 35 Wall Street. Friends and family are welcome to join. Individual registration for each guest is requested.

The Exhibition is recommended for ages 16+ due to the sensitive and graphic nature of some of the content.

Register here.

Family Mitzvah Project Sorting Event

Join us for a family mitzvah project during Tot Shabbat to sort donations for Room to Grow at 10:00am for kids in Kindergarten and above with their grownups (or adults who come alone!). You can still donate items Saturday morning; accepted items are linked here.

About Room to Grow: Room to Grow is a family-focused program supporting children during their early years of development.

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JCP Downtown at God’s Love We Deliver

Volunteer with God’s Love We Deliver on Monday, June 3rd, to help prepare meals in the kitchen! God’s Love We Deliver delivers over 15,000 medically tailored meals each weekday to clients living with severe and chronic illness who are too sick to shop or cook themselves.

About God’s Love We Deliver:

God’s Love is the tri-state area’s leading provider of nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. It’s the only agency of its kind in New York, preparing every nutritious meal by hand and delivering them right to our clients’ doorsteps every day. We rely on volunteers to do all the cutting, chopping and trimming, ensuring that there’s a real human being behind each meal.

Register here.

Volunteers will have up until one week before the shift to claim a reserved spot—register here by May 27!

Details:

  • LOCATION: God’s Love We Deliver is located in SoHo at 166 Avenue of the Americas, which you can get to by taking the C or E to Spring or the 1 to Houston. Our entrance is on the corner of Spring and 6th Avenue.
  • DRESS CODE: Clothing must completely cover shoulders, armpits, knees, and toes. Long sleeves must be pushed above your elbows while working with food. All hair must be fully covered in the kitchen. We provide hair nets, however, hats may be worn providing all hair is covered, including ponytails and bangs. No bracelets, watches or dangling earrings may be worn.
  • We have a volunteer lounge with lockers where volunteers set their own combination and can lock away any personal belongings while volunteering.

D’var Torah: Parashat Tzav

This week, our D’var Torah has been written by Daphne Logan, Director of the Hebrew School Project. It is a modified version of the letter she sent to HSP families after she returned from a two-week trip to Israel in February.

The Jewish people go by many names: Am Yisrael (the nation of Israel), the Israelites, and the People of the Book, to name a few. This last epithet provides a special insight into the story of the Jewish people. Our story is one of survival and resilience throughout the ages, and our unbroken ability to adapt and thrive is rooted in our storytelling.

In their research on children and families after the attacks of September 11, Drs. Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush found that having a strong family narrative is the key to cultivating resilience. They identified a particular type of narrative—the oscillating family narrative—as the backbone of resilience. In the oscillating narrative, we recount our family’s story as a succession of ups and downs. We acknowledge that our story does not have a “happily ever after” ending; rather, we recount each of the times that we have been able to overcome obstacles and rebuild. By framing our family narrative as such, children learn to expect that crises are a part of life. When faced with catastrophe, they are prepared—they know that just as in the past, they will get through it, and they will be okay, because that is the story of their family.

When I came upon the writing of Drs. Duke and Fivush, I was reminded of the lyrics to Vehi Sheamda, a song that is found in the Passover Haggadah, which we will be reading again very soon.

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵיֽנוּ וְלָנֽוּ. שֶׁלֹא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד, עָמַד עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, עוֹמְדִים עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם.

And this is that which sustained our ancestors and us, that it is not one alone that stood up against us to destroy us, but that in each generation there are those standing up against us to destroy us, and the Holy One saves us from their hand.

This is the story of our family, the Jewish people—a story of overcoming hardship, a story of perseverance, and a story of triumph. We know that we have faced adversity before, and we know that we will come out the other side when we face it again, and that we will thrive.

It has been nearly a month since I returned from Israel, where I was blessed to spend several days with family and friends, and to participate in an 8-day intensive program for leaders in North American Jewish educational institutions. Our group sought to examine Israel post-October 7, which has become a flashbulb memory in the collective Jewish consciousness, and to begin to explore how education should adapt to reflect not only a changed Israel, but a changed Jewish world.

Here are some of the experiences I participated in as a member of this cohort:

  • Visiting the Nova Music Festival grounds, the site of the initial massacre by Hamas on October 7
  • Learning from Adv. Ayelet Razin Bet Or about the gender-based violence that took place on October 7, and that has continued since
  • Visiting the town of Ofakim, which was attacked on October 7, and meeting with school principals, teachers, and high school students – the high schoolers led a tour of the neighborhoods that were attacked, and told the stories of their community heroes
  • Meeting with members of kibbutzim who have been evacuated from the Gaza Envelope, including Kibbutz Nir Am, with whom we shared a hotel in Tel Aviv
  • Visiting a temporary school that has been set up for evacuated children, some of whom were formerly held hostage in Gaza
  • Visiting and volunteering with an Israeli Bedouin community
  • Learning from Mohammed Darawshe about the relationship between Jewish and Muslim Israelis, and the reality of Muslim Israelis today
  • Spending time at Hostage Square and meeting with family members of hostages
  • Visiting the recently dug graves of soldiers at Har Herzl (Israel’s military cemetery), and meeting with Sarit Zussman, the mother of Ben Zussman z”l, a recently fallen soldier (you can read Ben’s final letter to his family here).

Though Israelis are intimately familiar with collective loss and trauma, every individual in Israel is now grappling with a uniquely excruciating sense of loss, shock, and betrayal. There are enduring communal wounds left from the brutal attacks and destruction that took place on October 7, and there is also the searing pain of the ongoing fighting, of the soldiers and civilians who have died in Gaza and throughout Israel, and of the hostages who are still in captivity. At the same time, the Israel that I saw on this trip is as beautiful, creative, unified, resilient, and tireless as before, and this nation prevails.

Even while we hold onto and respond to the array of legitimate reactions that are coming up at this moment—pain, anger, sadness, betrayal, perhaps even utter confusion or disgust—there is one permeating message that I have carried with me. A Jewish identity defined by opposition to others is not only unsustainable, but untransferable. This kind of Judaism will not enrich our lives, nor can it survive the passage from one generation to the next. We need to hold onto and elevate all of the ways that our Jewishness provides a sense of belonging, informs our ethics, nourishes our souls, and cultivates love and unity.

And even in this challenging moment—especially in this challenging moment—we must lead with love and hope. We must continue to tell our family narrative as one in which we rise to the occasion, support each other, and continue to celebrate Jewish life. As I return to life in Tribeca, I feel affirmed in our community’s continued commitment to instilling our learners with a Judaism founded in positive values, and to helping our learners draw strength and resilience from their Jewish identities.

I pray that all of the remaining hostages are returned home immediately, and that peace is speedily restored to the land of Israel and to all of its inhabitants.

Shabbat shalom.

Daphne Logan, HSP Director

JCP Luncheon in Honor of Mother’s Day

 Please join us as we celebrate women at a very special JCP Luncheon in honor of Mother’s Day, featuring a conversation with Elyse Walker, fashion icon and entrepreneur. Space is limited—reserve your spot.

Thank you to our event hosts: Hannah Bomze, Alexis Feldman, Dori Friedman, Shayna Glaser, Jessica Jacobs, Serena Levy, Sasha Martinez, Stacy Pollack, Hanna Richheimer, and Molly Snyder.

JCP Culture Committee Presents: An Evening in the Art Studio

In an exclusive event for JCP, we will meet contemporary artist Andrea Belag at her studio in Tribeca to enjoy viewing her art over drinks and dumplings from RedFarm. Friends and family are welcome to join!

About the artist:
Andrea Belag is a native New Yorker and a third generation artist. In addition to paintings and works on paper she has completed a commission for the MTA and is working on a Public Art commission through the New York Cultural Council. Belag’s work is included in several Museum Collections including the Jewish Museum in New York City.

For questions about this event, including ticket refunds, reach out to events@jcpdowntown.org.

Location will be shared 1-2 days before the event. 

Reflection on the JCP Solidarity Mission to Israel

This week, our D’var Torah has been written by Jane Grossman Rich, an ECC parent and participant in the JCP Solidarity Mission to Israel.

Throughout my life, I’ve strongly embraced my identity as a Jewish New Yorker, a heritage that I once assumed was ordinary. Raised in a family whose roots trace back to immigrant great-grandparents who fled persecution during pogroms and the early days of the Holocaust, I understood the significance of our Jewishness. My grandparents, all first-generation Americans, instilled in me a deep sense of pride in our cultural and religious traditions. My parents introduced a love of extended family (and their family, and their family, and friends that are like family), the honor of growing up in a culturally Jewish home, and the importance of Israel and the gift of tzedakah and tikkun olam.

I wore my religion and my state as badges of honor, reveling in what felt like a charmed life. The tales of survival passed down from generation to generation seemed remote, distant echoes of a bygone era. As a proud Jewish New Yorker, I felt insulated from the traumas that marked my family’s history and the enduring narrative of our people spanning over 3,500 years.

The morning of October 7th was earth-shattering. The images, the horror, the fear. And little did we know it was only just beginning. At first there was shock. Where is the outrage? The expectation that the world would stand with the people of Israel as the terrorist group governing their neighbor attacked civilians in their homes and at a music festival felt obvious. The quick realization of mass murder, gang rape, and the taking of hostages as young as 10 months and well into their 90’s felt like a bad dream. I knew all of their names. Their stories. Their families. I was obsessed. Why wasn’t the world?

For many weeks it felt like I was drowning. Every time I got my head above water I was hit back down by a wave of antisemitism. A Jewish man murdered at a protest in LA. An airport stormed in Russia. Glued to the news, I felt hopeless and overwhelmed. How could people hold so much hate for such a beautiful minority? And why was it unfolding at a time globally when Israel was in need of our help? The only time I felt secure was when I was helping Jews, talking about Jewish people, or giving back to Israel. I was relentless, posting on Instagram 24/7, depleting resources, finding ways to help strangers in need in our beautiful war-torn country. A beautiful day trip with JCP to D.C. among 300K Jews and allies felt like home but still nothing was enough.

When JCP announced its mission to Israel, a clear set of obstacles presented themselves. As a parent to a three-year-old, juggling a full-time job, and facing the logistical challenges of distance and cost, the decision seemed daunting. The prospect of venturing into a war zone, with no familiar faces and all the global attention, added layers of fear and anxiety. Yet, despite these formidable barriers, there was no alternative: I needed to be there.

I went to Israel with one question: What can I do to help?

Up until the minute I got on the plane I wasn’t sure if I had the courage to follow through. When I landed at Ben Gurion, everything changed. The electricity that pulses through the tapestry of Israeli culture, along with its deep-rooted history, filled my veins with pride and energy. But immediately, a reminder of why we were there: the ramp to customs now covered in familiar faces, 134 hostages still in Gaza 150 days later.

I have not yet been able to fully process a lot of the trip. When I close my eyes, I feel the eeriness and sadness of Kibbutz Nir Oz and the site of Nova. The juxtaposition of the beauty of the locations and the sheer horror of October 7th and the ricochet layers continue to echo. The reality of the events I had been following so closely in real-time were almost too much to handle. Kfir and Ariel Bibas’ high chairs and toys, left unplayed with, will haunt me forever. So what I choose to share is my greatest lesson.

Even in the darkest of times, you can find the helpers and in that you can find the light.

In a country as small as Israel, the lines between individuals blur, creating a sense of crossover where everyone is interconnected. This interconnectedness fosters a culture of compassion and solidarity, where the love and support of one’s fellow citizens know no bounds. It is this sense of collective need to preserve and lift each other that strengthens the fabric of Israeli society, forging bonds that withstand even the most trying of times.

We met Shelly Shem Tov, mother of hostage Omer, who 24 hours after October 7th managed to gather 300+ family members of those assumed hostage to figure out what the next steps were to fight for their loved ones. Her motherly love and strength continues to serve as the foundation for the Hostage Family Forum #bringthemhome, which is a viral global movement. Her strength & resilience in a time of complete heartbreak and agony moved the needle for hundreds of families in her position. Together, they are stronger than one. 

We heard the story of Aner, a fearless attendee at the Nova festival who took it upon himself to guard the entrance to a bomb shelter filled with 30 scared youth. He personally saved the lives of many by grabbing over 8 grenades thrown with intention to kill anyone hidden in this tiny cement box and throwing them back out. He chose courage over fear. Oneness over self. 

We learned stories of the Bedouins, who without trepidation got in their cars and drove towards an active terror attack and managed to save Nova festival attendees trying to flee. Proving once again, the fabric of the Israeli people is so beautiful because it is diverse.

The stories of these helpers resonate with a profound sense of hope and resilience.These acts serve as powerful reminders of the indomitable spirit that thrives within the Israeli community. In the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, these stories stand as beacons of light, illuminating the path forward and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.  

What’s next:

I have always known, but have never understood as intimately as I do now the delicate dichotomy that exists in our world as Jews: when Israel is not safe, none of us are.

Israel is not just a country, but a Jewish project – a collective effort to preserve our culture, our ancestral homeland, but most importantly our people. As Jews around the world, it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Israel, to support and defend its right to exist, for the future of our global Jewish community depends on it. The ruach, or spirit, of Israel is one of strength and perseverance, inspiring us all to never give up, no matter the challenges we may face.

As I reflect on my experiences, I am reminded of the importance of coming together as a community, supporting one another through both the good times and the bad. In the midst of tragedy and turmoil, it is our collective humanity that sustains us, offering hope where there is despair and light where there is darkness. In Israel, the goodness of the people shines brightly, serving as a beacon of hope for us all. The spirit of survival is in our bones. 

Although our JCP mission to Israel has come to a close, it is clear that our work at home and our true “mission” is only beginning. It is our birthright to protect and yell our pride in our Jewishness to anyone that will listen. To share our spirit of community and our ruach with the world and to continue to be the light in the absolute darkest of times. To stand with our community both in New York and globally to amplify the good. To be fearless. To be the helpers. I look forward to standing beside you.

Shabbat shalom.