Class of 2023, you have reached this moment after witnessing exceptional times in history.
You have been through a once-in-a-century pandemic, that brought great concern for the future with a great deal of uncertainty.
This pandemic was overcome by the aligning of the best brains, decision makers and resources, and the making of unprecedented efforts towards finding a solution that will bring an end to this enormous global health crisis.
You have seen our school putting in herculean efforts, leading with excellence and innovation, and our community coming together and showing beautiful resiliency.
And, fortunately, you have seen the pendulum going back to its center and normalcy reattained, step-by-step.
Same as the past, the present brings its new challenges or carries old challenges that have not been resolved, and the future is destined to act the same way.
Here in the United States, we have great concerns over gun control and safety issues, rising antisemitism, and controversial societal issues around human rights, to name a few.
Our beloved Israel, while longing for peace and having had its struggles ever since its inception, is now facing an extremely concerning crisis surrounding the proposed judicial reform which is threatening to shatter Israeli society.
As I said, there will always be challenges.
I am standing here as the Board President to tell you that no matter what challenges life will bring, it is my hope that you will remember what you experienced and learned here at JDS about the importance of our common responsibility for the present and the future, and how to bring about a change.
Your CESJDS education has given you sharp tools to think critically. Through your English, History, and Jewish History classes you learned about our past, you understand the present, and you have obtained some powerful tools for how to fight for the future. When you read “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, you learned about the importance and responsibility to fight against what you feel is wrong, within the limits of the law.
Another value we instill at JDS is the value of pluralism. Plurality of thought strengthens the decision-making process.
I hope you always remember to keep a respectful dialogue and remind yourself to fight for the sacred right of the people with the opposing viewpoint to voice their thoughts in a safe and welcoming environment.
Even when we disagree, we do not have the privilege of giving in and disconnecting from one another. We are still a family - citizens of the same nation and supporters of the State of Israel - the eternal home of the Jewish People.
So go out, conquer the world, enjoy everything it has to offer, spread the light, and try on the way to make it a better place.
And a warm welcome to this special moment. A moment to appreciate all the beauty of our community. To pause and recognize an accomplishment. And to wish our graduates that this will be an invitation to many more beautiful and meaningful touchpoints with our community.