One week ago, I took our two teenage boys to the March for Israel in Washington DC—the most powerful experience of Jewish Peoplehood I never wanted them to need. Deep thanks to the Jewish Federations of North America for organizing the march with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once- a sacred gathering that we are not soon to forget.

That same sense of holiness could also be felt at our sold-out Israeli Families Weekend at Pearlstone just a few days before the Israel March.  We’ve always believed in the power of Jewish retreating, but this gathering was on a different level. Immediately upon arrival, we heard guests say, “I didn’t realize how much I needed this.”  Immersed in a deeply Jewish, mostly Hebrew environment, gaggles of kids played together without fear while adults felt safe enough to release the acute stress and anxiety they’ve been holding for many weeks—connecting and sharing on our Night Hike, singing and crying out together at Havdalah and around the campfire, and finding powerful healing in the simple act of putting our hands upon the earth. There is a deep yearning to be together right now; we will continue to meet this need.

About a month ago, the Detroit community suffered a horrific loss with the murder of Samantha Woll, an amazing Jewish leader and ally. This tragedy struck amidst the already overwhelming pain coursing through our hearts pulled eastward to Israel and Gaza. In response to this multilayered trauma, our Adamah Detroit team offered a Healing Nature Walk in a local park: just the simple, essential medicine of reconnecting with each other and with the earth, at a moment when nothing seems ok. Then, this past Sunday we led our Adamah Detroit Community Summit, convening community members, lay leaders, professionals, and clergy from over 40 local Jewish communal organizations for an uplifting afternoon of community building workshops on Jewish environmental education, youth empowerment, and climate action. This is what healing and hope looks like—in small, powerful doses.

And now, there is news of an agreement that will finally allow some of the hostages to return home as a ceasefire takes hold. Please G!d, they will all come home soon, and together Israelis and Palestinians can begin moving towards a just, sustainable peace for both peoples. 

There is good news in the world. There is hope. No matter what, don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.

So, as we gather with our loved ones these next few days, may we remember to go outside, find a field or forest or meadow, breathe, walk, and connect with the deep healing power of Creation. May we remember that some relationships are more important than any argument. And as we gather around the table together, may we be kind and loving to one another, and may we try extra hard to listen with patience and empathy. May these days help us all rebuild and reground ourselves in love, again and again, year after year.  

May we be grateful for the miracles all around us and inside of us every day, and may we celebrate and share that light with everyone around us. Because we must, now more than ever before.

Here’s to Giving Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jakir Manela  

Chief Executive Officer

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