President’s Message: Our Community and Security

Mike Winston, TBS President

This month I am writing my article just days after the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Candidly I am at a loss for words, which for those that know me sounds impossible. I am saddened by the event, yet relieved by the resolution. I am scared for our greater Jewish community, yet inspired that we continually overcome hatred.

As I pour over how this affects TBS and what we can do to protect our community, I find myself a little disoriented. Since I have joined the leadership team at TBS, our primary safety and security issue has been COVID. We have been planning and replanning our mitigation efforts around this ever-changing situation with new and updated information evolving almost daily. Our worries have been about making hand sanitizer and masks available, being able to pivot to virtual options if necessary, and upgrading our ventilation indoors. Yet, in one 11-hour period, we are reminded about the reality and gravity of being a Jewish institution and what we must do to stay safe.

It’s not easy being Jewish, especially in Orange County. I had this conversation with my parents recently, who are native New Yorkers. They didn’t have to miss a day of school for the High Holy Days or explain to other classmates what a challah was, and they didn’t have to “find” Jewish friends. Growing up in California, I had to work hard at these things, especially to have Jewish friends and a Jewish community.

Being Jewish takes work and so does fostering our connections. I consciously and actively participate to make sure this community remains here for me, my family, and all of you. This is what we have always done as a people: work hard to be Jewish.

I am thankful for the bravery and safety of the four Colleyville hostages. I pray for a speedy recovery of their mental health and for the healing of CBI as a community. And I pray for the continued safety of ours. L’Shalom.

This article was first published on Our Voices, issue #24

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