This is us. This is who we are as individuals and as a community. In Parashat Kedoshim in Vayikra, we are taught to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and I think that is the most important lesson in the Torah. Individuals with disabilities are our neighbors and we shouldn't treat them any differently than we would ourselves.
Today and every day, we stand with those who are speaking out in support of the values that we as Americans and as Jews hold dear: inclusion, tolerance, justice and equality for all.
It was in 1883 when a young Jewish woman named Emma Lazarus sought to give voice to those same values. As a fundraising effort for the Statue of Liberty’s new pedestal, Emma wrote a poem that has since been etched into the American consciousness. She writes in “The New Colossus” that ours is a country that welcomes all those who come in search of a better life.
For the first eighteen years of my life, my Jewish identity was completely intertwined with service work. From weekly visits to the Collingswood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center with my Hebrew School class, to rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina with my Jewish sleepaway camp, to social action projects with my NFTY youth group, volunteerism was embedded in my practice of Judaism.
CareerHub Interview is an ongoing series where we speak with and learn from emerging leaders working and volunteering in the Jewish community. In this edition, we speak with Rabbi George Wielechowski, founding director of the Open Dor Project, a Moishe House-inspired initiative. Rabbi George shares his sources of inspiration, how he gets so much done in a day and why there is so much entrepreneurial energy in the Jewish community today.