We are honored to feature you in our annual Cap & Gown issue!
Congratulations on your graduation! We at the Jewish News are so proud of all your amazing accomplishments and the terrific ways each and every one of you have contributed to the Metro Detroit Jewish community. We are honored to feature you in our annual Cap & Gown issue, and we hope this can provide a small moment of pride in the absence of our community’s normal graduation festivities.
Obviously, this is not the way any of you wanted this year to go down. Given the complete shutdown of everything caused by COVID-19, and the general state of the world you are graduating into, this probably feels less like a triumphant victory and more like barely stumbling across the finish line, only to find a sheer drop ahead of you.
There’s no denying these are difficult times. Most of you were planning to go to college in the fall and are now unsure if you’ll even be able to set foot on a campus by then. Others were planning to travel abroad, to Israel or elsewhere, and now you’re not sure if you can even get on a plane.
That crucial threshold of life, the moment when you are able to leave the nest and put all your accomplishments and ambitions to use as you blaze your own trail through the world, has been put on potentially indefinite hold.
Maybe your families have been forced to encounter the horrendous effects of COVID-19 up front, either because someone close to you has contracted the illness, is a front-line worker doing their part to fight it off, or has had their jobs and livelihoods disrupted or shattered as a result. For many of us, this is not only a time of uncertainty and inconvenience, but also of real fear.
But does any of this mean you’re less deserving of the praise and promise that comes with every high school diploma? Absolutely not. And here’s the thing: In spite of everything, we can still live. And we can still live with our Jewish values intact.
As you go forward in life, you will find opportunities to fulfill the lessons of our ancestors: of tikkun olam, of tzedakah, of chesed and kehillah. Finding new ways to repair the world, to give to the less fortunate, to build a community even in these current, terrible circumstances when our communities seem so fragile.
No matter the unfortunate way in which it unfolds, a graduation is still an empowering event. You’re finding a path forward, and you’re doing it with the strong foundations our Jewish community has given you.
Mazel tov and kol hakavod! May your journeys ahead bring you happiness, and may you help make the better world we all so desperately need.