When I first started working at the Jewish Federation back in 2005, I used to hear stories people shared of the “good ‘ol days.” They looked longingly with a special sparkle in their eye as they spoke of people who they considered “giants” of the community, and programs that in their mind captured the essence of the role the Jewish Federation played in the community.
Last month, I witnessed and experienced what those people had felt so many years ago as I walked around the Jewish Food Festival. And boy… was that a powerful feeling. It was the feeling of community!
The energy in the park was palpable. People were walking around with cups of cholent in one hand and a bag of rugelach in the other. Families were gathered on the grass sharing food, listening to the entertainment. Strangers were sitting together at tables, getting to know each other. And at some points, people were not able to pass between the booths because there were so many people there to celebrate being Jewish in the greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.
As I looked around and witnessed what we made possible… I smiled, knowing that this event captured the essence of what it means to be a community. We have included some photos for you to see what we saw. While I know people came to the festival for different reasons, I believe that deep down they came out not just for the food, but also because they wanted to be a part of our community.
The sense of community is a powerful driving force. It can help us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves, take away the feeling of being isolated or alone, and provide us comfort and support.
It is for this reason; I think the rabbis in the Talmud felt community was so important. They understood what community means to people and what it provides.
I encourage all of us to do what we can to continue to promote the power of community and try to make it a part of our everyday life. It is a gift that we can give one another, costs us very little, and we benefit from as well.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, from our volunteers and committee members, to our community partners and everyone who attended. And to those of you who were not able to attend the Jewish Food Festival… don’t worry; we will be doing it again. Because, after all, the Jewish Federation’s mission is to strengthen and enhance Jewish life. In our community.
JASON MOSS Is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the GREATER san gabriel and pomona valleys.