Exactly 360 years ago, and just before Rosh Hashana, 23 Dutch Jews arrived in the port of New Amsterdam aboard the Ste. Catherine. They had fled Recife, Brazil preferring to brave the unknown than to stay behind and risk persecution. They were not the first Jews to arrive in northern America. Individuals before them had come and gone, mainly for trade, but this group was different. They had come to find a new, safe place to call home.
359 years after the first Jewish community lay roots in America, and one year ago, I had the privilege of arriving in Westchester to serve as the community’s first Shaliach on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel. From the PEW Center’s research findings, to Operation “Defensive Edge” and everything in between, this year has been a roller coaster- fast paced, with many ups and downs, but overall exhilarating and fun.
As much as I hope I have educated about and shared my Israel in Westchester, I have also learned about our collective history, our ever developing present, and the challenges in our future together. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a shanna tova u’metukah, and to say a big toda raba (thank you) for making Maya and I feel at home.
I pray that in 5775 we will have the z’chut (privilege) to further discuss, celebrate and explore Israel together in a number of new initiatives being launched. I invite you to keep up to date with all the events around the County through the Westchester Jewish Council and through my website.
With much appreciation and thanks, and with hope for a peaceful New Year.