In this week’s Torah portion, Jethro notices his son-in-law Moses dealing with challenges in adjudicating all of the Israelites’ cases by himself. Ever the wise individual, Jethro advises Moses to create a council that will help balance the work for the community. After the council is in place and the society is self-governing, Jethro is able to go off to his own land.
As a fellow in the Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) program, I can relate to this Torah portion. There are a great many challenges on the path to maintaining a healthier, more sustainable planet. Taking on a task of this proportion would be extremely challenging for one person, or even a small group of people to tackle on their own. Rather, we are tasked with creating positive change while educating the community and inspiring them to take similar steps. I am reminded of the Pirkei Avot quote “Do not separate yourself from the community.” We are all collectively responsible for the community, and as it grows, it becomes more and more important for us to work together as a cohesive unit.
At the OFJCC, we strive to build a strong and cohesive community focused on creating positive change in the environment and in society. One of the steps we are taking is to reduce waste by purchasing all compostable utensils throughout the organization, reducing water usage by installing aerators and planting gardens to help educate our youth. We also work to give back to those in need, completing service projects in many shapes and sizes (we had over 1,000 participants this year in an array of projects during our annual Mitzvah Day).
The organizational partnerships and personal relationships developed by participating in the JOFEE fellowship have opened my eyes to the many opportunities to do good and improve our community that are all around us every day. Prior to being a part of this cohort, this was not something that was often on my mind, but I am committed to bringing these ideals to the wider community through our collaborative partnership. To sum it all up, I would say: The only way we’re going to get it together, is together.