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June 9, 2022

06/09/2022 11:12:31 AM


Rabbi Hearshen

Next Monday the four of us will leave for our summer home, Camp Ramah Darom. While we’re at camp, I’ll be teaching and “rabbi-ing,” Carrie will be working with staff kids (including Galit) and Ayelet will be in a bunk for her sixth summer. Each summer that we go to camp we don’t take vacation so much as we recharge our drive and hunger for the Jewish community and Judaism in our generation.

Last Rosh Hashana, I spoke about the state of Judaism in our world and that it’s on “life support.” I gave out bracelets with OVS on them and the word “Thrive.” I did this because I’m convinced the time has arrived that we stop trying to “survive” and instead push ourselves to “thrive.” This might sound like a semantics argument, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Jewish obsession with survival has allowed us to be complacent and ambivalent as our community and religion doesn’t grow or develop. We accept minimums and don’t push for or demand maximums.

Or VeShalom is a mighty institution. We have often allowed ourselves to believe our brightest days are in the past but that must not be our vision. We must see that our greatest chapter has yet to be written. Or VeShalom is a mighty institution and yet we too have become a bit complacent in the ideology of surviving and at times not embraced the opportunity of thriving.

When we were children, our parents would have been derelict in their responsibility if they didn’t push us to reach for the heavens and to never merely “accept” or “settle.” Please don’t misunderstand anything written here. OVS is in great shape and through achieving our shared goals, we will be a flagship institution in the Atlanta Jewish Community and we will realize that bright reality together by each other’s sides.

Just this week, our staff grew as we welcomed Hilary Druckman as our new Program and Membership Engagement Director. When we met Hilary back in March, I knew right away she would be the perfect person for this new position. She checked every box in the job description and we are blessed to have her in our community. As Hilary begins her job, she’ll help us to thrive through greater membership engagement and through our expertly executed programming. Please join me in welcoming Hilary. You can reach her at or 404-633-1737 so she can get to know you. She’d love to hear your ideas to help our community thrive.

While I’m at camp this summer, I’ll enjoy four weeks in an experimental laboratory where we grow and develop a living and dynamic Judaism. I’ll watch as kids and adults celebrate their Judaism and their heritage and not see it as burdensome. I’ll get to reimagine what the future of the Jewish world will be, both in general, and at OVS specifically. While we’re at camp I’ll be spending hours each day with fellow Jewish professionals discussing what each of us can do to grow communities that thrive in every moment they’re together.

While I’m gone, I want to give each of you some homework. Please spend some time and ask yourself what more you can do as a Jew. Ask yourself if you’re content with merely surviving or if you’re committed to building a thriving Jewish life for yourself and a thriving Jewish community for us all. Thriving is about seeking more from ourselves and those around us. Thriving is about never being content with what we have and always looking to do and be more.

I return from camp on July 10th and that’s the night we’ll gather as a community at the Fund the Future Dinner to learn about the Future Fund Campaign. Our future will be firmly rooted in our incredible past while seizing the momentum of today to engage each of us in building a dynamic and thriving community for tomorrow. I cannot wait to do this work together with you.

Have a wonderful summer,

Rabbi Hearshen


Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782