Jewish wisdom - the Torah - is called "Etz Chaim/Tree of Life" because in every generation it has inspired and guided a Jew how to live - with eternal values and a connection to God.
For over forty years, Etz Chaim in Baltimore has been connecting Jews of all backgrounds to their Judaism through exciting programs and about a year ago, the organization entrusted me to engage a new generation of Jews.
The past year has been very fruitful, thank God, and we created this newsletter to share these successes with you. Our major accomplishments include creating an innovative volunteering program for young professionals, empowering Jewish mothers to create an inspirational program called Jewnity, and hiring a dynamic Rabbi to connect with college students at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).
Rabbi Shlomo Porter, Dean and President of Etz Chaim, has been a tremendous friend and thought-partner throughout this process. He is focusing his efforts on maintaining his relationships with students and donors of the last 36 years. He continues to teach his Sunday morning Torah class and bi-monthly class in Jewish History & Thought at the Pikesville Senior Center.
Allow me to share with you a beautiful and timely story. A man once asked Rabbi Avigdor Miller what to do in order to merit a favorable judgment on Rosh Hashana. "Smile", was Rabbi Miller's response. "Smile?!" responded the bewildered man. "Yes, smile." confirmed Rabbi Miller, who then explained, "because when a person smiles, he's a walking advertisement that this world is a good place. If your'e always walking around with a downcast look, and you only share negative news and talk about what difficult times we are living in, especially before Rosh Hashana, Hashem gets a bad taste from you. He's not going to be interested in such an advertisement for His world, because while you might think that the world is not such a good place, He feels that it is a wonderful one. So smile, smile and advertise that this world is a good place, and He'll say, 'You know what? I'll give you another year.'"
May you and yours have a sweet new year,
Rabbi Zev Pomeranz