Eighteen is a special and significant number in Judaism. The Hebrew word for Life- Chai- has the numerical value of 18 (ask me about Gematria some time! It is fascinating). We celebrate the number 18 and its meaning in many significant ways in Jewish life. Have you noticed how many of us make donations to our favorite causes in denominations of 18? When we toast something wonderful in our lives, we say l’chaim- to life.
Today is 18 years since September 11, 2001, a day that for most of us brings sadness and vivid memories of where we were and what we were doing, whether here in Portland, or in one of the cities directly devastated by the tragedies of that day.
For me, today, I think about my kehillah- community- 18 years ago and, now, 18 years later. My community then, the one that kept my children and me safe and secure, was PJA. It is where I brought my very young children that day to learn and play while so many of us were glued to TVs and news reports. It is where I trusted my children’s teachers to love and care for them and not horrify them with details of the awful. And today, 18 years later, I walk in here with all of our PJA children and feel that same sense of love and support and kehillah for which I am so very grateful every day.
Today, 18 years later, we celebrate life and all of its joys here at PJA. We celebrate our kehillah for all of the layers of richness it brings and know that we can count on this kehillah for the next 18! I trust that here, 18 years later and in the coming 18 years, we will all find a safe, secure, and fulfilling home.
If you are new to PJA- a new teacher, a new family, a new child- we welcome you lovingly and warmly to our wonderful kehillah. If you are returning to us, we hope that you, too, feel that sense of coming home to a community that is nurturing, safe, and warm. We look forward to many celebrations of learning in this coming 2019-20, 5780 school year. SHANA TOVA!