Rabbi Scott Kramer
Tzlil Bandy McDonald
We are writing to share with you that we—Tzlil McDonald and Phillip Ensler—are honored to be serving as the respective new Executive Director and President of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama. We are also honored that David Cohen will be serving as Treasurer.
As many of you know, neither of us grew up in this community, but it has become “Sweet Home Alabama” to both of us. This community has showed us the best of Southern Hospitality – with a Jewish flavor that means “Shalom” is followed by “Y’all!”
We have learned though that being Jewish in Montgomery is not always easy and the future of our community faces some real challenges. But we also know the strengths and the passion of members of our community. This has caused us to feel an even greater responsibility to help maintain a strong Jewish presence.
Throughout the Torah, there are Hineini moments in which Jews were called up to be present and willing to serve. Despite the challenges faced in those moments, our ancestors responded with Hineini – “here I am.”
This is a Hineini moment for our community – where we all must decide whether we retreat and diminish or continue to respond to the call to action to support JFCA.
In 1898, author Mark Twain penned an essay in which he explored why Jews continued to survive and have a disproportionately positive impact on the world despite making up such a small portion of the population and faced with constant existential threats.
He wrote, “[Throughout history] the Jew saw [many enemies], beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind…[A]ll other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
Our secret is simple. We care about something bigger than ourselves. Our willingness as a people to devote our energies and resources to something that extends beyond the confines of our individual well-being fuels a longevity that has allowed us to not merely survive, but thrive.
We look forward to serving as your Executive Director and President, and working as a community to continue living out our Jewish values by collectively trying to leave this world and community a little better off than we found out.