This is an important week of thanks, and I want to share with you the top three items on my thanksgiving list. Firstly, I am immensely grateful that all of my children will be joining me this Thanksgiving, a holiday I regard as an American Passover. Ideally, we review the story of American history and the master narrative of freedom with those we love. This country has been great to the Jews, and we have every reason to celebrate it.
Secondly, I feel very grateful for the professionals I work with as evidenced by last week’s office get-together to celebrate those with November birthdays. I looked around the room and am surrounded by colleagues who have been friends with me for years. When I put these professional anchors in my life side-by-side with some of the incredible talent we’ve recently hired, I feel very blessed.
Thirdly, I just returned from Argentina ten years after its economic crisis. The Jews of Argentina are an entirely different community than they were a decade ago. Largely, this is a result of Argentinian Jews who emerged from the crisis and decided that when they got on their feet again, they would give back to the Jewish Agency who supported them in their time of need. Two philanthropists gave a million dollars back to their community to help inspire Argentinian youth to sustain the infrastructure of a thriving, vibrant Jewish community now and in the future.
Eduardo Belstein, one of the Argentinian philanthropists, calls what he did “giving it forward.” I think all three examples fit this description. When your kids grow up and come back as special young adults, you feel proud that your investment in them will help them give it forward. When you are committed to your colleagues in one job, sometimes they follow you to another, and they give it forward. When you receive the blessings of support in your dark hour, you show your deepest appreciation by giving it forward for the next generation. Thank you isn’t always enough. We show we’re most grateful when we create a new round of thanks through acts of goodness.
I never forget that I am on the giving end of gratitude. That consciousness creates both a sense of blessing and a sense of responsibility. This Thanksgiving, give it forward.
Dr. Misha Galperin is President & CEO of the Jewish Agency International