In the introduction to his book, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes: "Judaism is a complex and subtle faith, yet it has rarely lost touch with its simple ethical imperatives. We are here to make a difference, to mend the fractures of the world, a day at a time, an act at a time, for as long as it takes to make it a place of justice and compassion where the lonely are not alone, the poor not without help; where the cry of the vulnerable is heeded and those who are wronged are heard."
Inspired by the words of Rabbi Sacks, I love and feel fulfilled by my work at The JCC in Manhattan, building a community that constantly asks the question, “what does it mean to engage?” We struggle together to create a society built on a framework of mutual responsibility. We are only as strong as the weakest among us. Together, we ask questions—questions of how we spend our time, how we spend our money, who we pay attention to on the subway, why we have a society where inequality runs rampant, and what can and should we do about it?
Judaism teaches that “all of Israel is responsible for one another.” And so, with that as our charge, we focus our attention on the needs of the nearly 200,000 poor and near-poor Jewish households in the greater New York City area. We look to what each of us can do, individually and collectively, to respond to the poverty, isolation, and other challenges facing members of our community, using the skills, experience, and wisdom that we have acquired throughout our lives. In this way, Engage seeks to redefine retirement; transforming it from a time of assumed passivity and stagnation, and instead allowing it to become a period of vibrancy and action, where amazing new possibilities can flourish and grow.