general newsletter

From Forgiveness to Action – Message From the CEO

September 13, 2018

This is a message that I wrote last year, but for many reasons it seems even more appropriate this year – with so much denial around us and very little actual seeking of forgiveness. Yom Kippur this year begins on September 18).

There seems to be an increasing amount of rhetoric these days in all walks of life. Posturing, theatrics, self-serving speeches, all dominate the media. For a culture that seems never to have enough time, we seem to spend an awful lot of it discussing (or arguing about) what we might do, rather than getting something done. But, we know that there are many actions that speak louder than words.

The holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, begins next Tuesday at sunset. Yom Kippur is a time for repentance and forgiveness. Even as children, we understand what it means to tell someone you are sorry, and we hope to hear words of forgiveness in return. But, on this “Day of Atonement,” exactly how does a person atone for past transgressions to ensure the promise of the New Year becomes reality? One Rabbinic teaching suggests that atonement can be achieved through deeds of lovingkindness.

This is a means of achieving atonement that we understand well. The social justice movement is built upon the value of performing acts of lovingkindness, of moving beyond the rhetoric and actively making a difference. In our professional and personal lives, with family, friends, clients, and strangers, we know how to improve ourselves by treating others with dignity and respect as we care for and honor them. At this time of increasing public discord, of political strategies that seemingly seek to divide us, it is increasingly important that we not forget the personal connections that are the fabric of our society. Let’s take some time each day to open a door for a stranger, share a smile with a child, express our thanks for a kindness, and work as people together for a just and fair society.

Lee Sherman, President & CEO