Rabbi Jamie’s Corner
By Jamie Hyams
Hebrew Free Loan
As Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is upon us, it’s a time of new beginnings: a new year for the Jewish community, and, for me, a new perspective as a recently ordained rabbi. I understand a rabbi to be one who guides people toward lives filled with awe, gratitude, and community, and who provides a lens of Jewish ethics and ideas that can fill each moment with meaning and purpose.
As both a rabbi and the Development Director of Hebrew Free Loan, I’m honored to have been asked to share with you my thoughts on Jewish life and identity through a Hebrew Free Loan lens.
“Shivim panim laTorah … The Torah has seventy faces” – Bamidbar Rabba 13:15-16.
We each express Jewish identity in our daily lives in unique ways, and ALL ways of being Jewish are welcome here at Hebrew Free Loan. Although Jewish people share a common textual tradition, there are many different perspectives and interpretations of how to be Jewish. For some it’s religious, for others it’s cultural, and for some it’s ethnic. For many, it’s a combination of all three.
Jewish identity is complex. I often hear people say, “I’m Jewish, but I’m not religious.” I sense these folks are articulating an insecurity that they may not be “Jewish enough,” that they don’t measure up to some external standard of practice or belief. Yet when the singer Bruno Mars croons, “You’re amazing just the way you are,” he’s speaking to a core value of Hebrew Free Loan: that we respect and value the multiple expressions of Jewish life.
You are a part of our broad community, and we’re here to help. While most of our loans, as our founders wished, are distributed within the Jewish community, we also provide loans to lower income students who are not Jewish through our Pollak Community Loan Program.
Our loan recipients come from across the spectrum of Jewish life and engagement. We are young, and we are old. We are gay, we are straight, and we are non-binary. Some of us are Jewish, some married into the community, and some are a non-Jewish business partner of a Jewish business loan recipient. Some of us have tattoos, and some have purple hair. Our backgrounds and our practices vary, and no two of us are alike. As we navigate our modern lives, the seventy faces of Torah are expressed in our communities’ diversity, and our diversity is our strength.
As we welcome in the year 5782, may you be written for a good year.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu!