One of my favorite Hebrew concepts is, which translates to "Here I am."
More than a simple response to someone taking roll call, Hineni possesses a much deeper meaning than just being present in body. Rather, Hineni-which is written 178 times in the Bible and is uttered by both people to G-d and between people-signals a profound spiritual presence and readiness to help.
And that readiness reminds me of each of you-our readers, the people who support the vital work of JUF and the Jewish people.
You proclaim Hineni year in and year out through your boundless generosity, which enables us to lift up countless lives at home, in Israel, and around the world.
And this year, of course, you did it again.
But, then, October 7 happened-a heartbreaking day that changed all Jews, in Israel and the diaspora, forever.
After that, 2023 became uniquely challenging. Yet, you didn't cower at the enormity of the challenge. No, you leaned into it, as you always do.
You said, Hineni, that you were ready and willing to help, no matter how heavy the lift.
You said, Hineni, that you would show up for the Jewish people and for Israel.
You said Hineni, swiftly enabling JUF to advance immediate aid to our partners on the ground who provided emergency assistance to victims in Israel to help them heal and rebuild.
You said Hineni, making it possible for JUF to open an Israel Emergency Fund to send critical support to the Israeli people-raising more than $50 million to date.
You said Hineni, stepping up for Israel and against antisemitism on social media, in the graffiti-scrawled edifices of Jewish institutions, and in college lecture halls-mobilizing Israel solidarity gatherings and launching public awareness campaigns.
You said Hineni, ensuring that JUF could bolster security at local Jewish schools, agencies, and synagogues-so that our community could safely take part in Jewish life.
You said Hineni, eclipsing the dark with bright, beautiful moments of light.
In this issue, we'll introduce you to just a few of the people whose lives you showed up for-both before and after October 7-in Chicago, Israel, Ukraine, and elsewhere in 2023.
You said Hineni so many times this past year. And we know, you'll say Hineni so many more times in the year to come.
And for that, we say thank you.