Conquering fears and embracing the role of public speaking.
Growing up, I dreaded hearing my teachers say, “Your next assignment will be preparing a speech that you will give next week in front of the entire class.” The anxiety I would feel as the days drew closer to that moment when I needed to stand before my classmates and deliver a speech that no one cared to hear on a topic that I only “recently” decided to discuss. That fear remained with me for many years, even into early adulthood. However, that all changed when I had an epiphany one day while teaching my 5th-grade Hebrew school class at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. At that moment, I realized I had been publicly speaking twice a week for a while now. And from then on, my anxiety went away, and I began to look forward to opportunities to address an audience.
This is reason #47 (yes… it is an arbitrary number that I made up for this column, but let’s go with it) why I love being the Executive Director of our Jewish Federation. As I have previously shared with the community, the Jewish Federation has recently intensified our advocacy work on behalf of our local Jewish community, specifically to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred. In the last month or so, I have stood before the City of Monrovia, Alhambra, and Sierra Madre’s City Councils, imploring them to join us in combating antisemitism by passing resolutions, standing up to all forms of hatred, and working to bring together the leaders of different targeted groups to develop a plan and response to hate in their respective cities. I hope to speak to more city councils as we try and get all 48 cities in our community to stand with us against this plague of hate.
Along these same lines, on May 9 and 10, I will be up in Sacramento as part of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee—California’s (JPAC-CA) Capitol Summit, representing our community along with close to 300 Jews from all across our state who will be lobbying our state officials to support upcoming bills that are in line with not only our Jewish values but also will help all of California’s citizens. I hope many from our community will join me in this vital work next year.
The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys advocacy work is critical for all of us. I am proud of the work we do, serving as the Jewish voice on important issues affecting our community.
On a different note, I hope you will join us for the unique Town Hall Meeting with the Consul General of Israel, Dr. Hillel Newman, on Monday, May 15. As the highest-ranking Israeli official in the Southwest, this is an excellent opportunity to hear him address issues taking place in Israel and have the chance to ask him questions. I will be moderating this evening’s conversation and hope to see you there. To learn more about Dr. Newman and his role as Consul General, including what a Consul General does, read this month’s cover article.
It sure is good that I overcame my glossophobia (fear of public speaking) many years ago; otherwise, I would have a tough time doing my job.
Jason Moss is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.