You cannot change any society unless…

You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.

Grace Lee Boggs (1915 โ€“ 2015)

Let’s be real. Most of us will never change our societies in any substantial way. I will never make any great impact upon Israeli society, though I do have strong opinions about potential policies that could better it. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to help but pursue a career in the non-profit sector. It draws me.

After more than seven years at a small NGO that promotes religious freedom in Israel, I took a job (nearly eight months ago) as a writer at The Jewish Agency for Israel. This historic organization predates the establishment of the State of Israel, and it continues to support and operate sundry social and cultural programs for all segments of Israeli society, as well as for Jewish communities around the world. All of the grant proposals and reports I write leave me satisfied ~ I truly believe in the programs I raise funds for.

Anyway, at a gut level, I identify with Grace Lee Boggs’ quote above. It would be nice to earn more money by working in the private sector, but I know from personal experience that this would make me miserable. It’s not that I’m an especially “good” person ~ rather: I like to feel I am.

It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside.

Rabbi Tarfon (circa 70 CE – 135 CE)

This famous quote by Rabbi Tarfon is often used by various Jewish NGO’s and educational institutions to motivate volunteers and donors by contextualizing the individual’s commitment to improving the world.

It serves, rightly, to remind us that we need not expect ourselves to singlehandedly succeed at changing everything for the better ~ and that our respective bit parts are, despite our likely doubts, somehow deeply significant.

Do I truly feel that my small role as a grant writer at The Jewish Agency for Israel is deeply significant to Israeli society and global Jewish community in the larger picture? Well, no, not really… But who knows? Perhaps Rabbi Tarfon would have thought so.

WQW 50: Remembering 2022

For me, 2022 will forever be the year that I began working at The Jewish Agency… This was the year I finally came to feel that I have successfully integrated into Israeli society.

This is the context for the quotes and reflections I’ve shared above in response to Marsha’s Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays #50 prompt.

41 thoughts on “You cannot change any society unless…”

  1. Good observations, David. Part of my personal mission statement is to be faithful within a small circle of influence. Some people have (or are more comfortable with) larger circles of influence, but we can all make a difference that radiates outward in some way.

  2. I would like to think that being in volunteer groups, my family has been there and will continue to be there for our community. That was on top of the various jobs we held.
    Now we are retired… mostly anyway.
    I would like to think that everytime I ’round up’ my change at the grocery store – I am helping someone. I as well as when I smile at strangers and hold open doors.
    I wish you continued success in your grant writing. Our one child has done that to get equiptment for the volunteer angency that has limited governmental funds.

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