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Planting for our future

"As we can be lifted up and strengthened by our participation in community, so too should we recognize and appreciate the important role that the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle plays in our lives."

Honi the Circle Maker lived in the land of Israel during the first century B.C.E. He was known as a Jewish miracle worker because of his ability to bring the rain. His story is found in the Babylonian Talmud.

One day, Honi was walking along the road and met a man planting a tree. Honi asked him, “How long will it be until this tree gives you something to eat?” The man answered, “Seventy years.” Honi asked, “So why are you planting it? Do you think you will be around to eat its fruit in seventy years?”

The man answered, “I don’t know. But I do know that I found trees with fruit that someone else had planted a long time ago. I want to plant trees so my children will find trees with fruit as I did.”

We harvest from trees planted before we were born. We plant trees so our children and grandchildren will have something to harvest after we are no longer living. Both a literal and a metaphorical/spiritual truth, planting and harvesting connect us across the generations.

I was born in Pittsburgh at the Montefiore Hospital, where both my parents were also born. My mother graduated from B’nai Israel Hebrew School, and many years later, I became its principal. These parallels are typical for those of us whose families have lived in Pittsburgh for several generations. It is unique and indeed a blessing.

Another family parallel in my life has been the presence of the Jewish Chronicle. Whether we lived with my maternal grandparents on Highview Street in East End or in our own home on Coleridge Street in Stanton Heights, my parents and grandparents looked forward each week to reading the paper from cover to cover. Perhaps they would know someone who had penned an op-ed, or who gave birth; perhaps they would learn about a program or read a political article, or even see their own names mentioned.

Pittsburgh’s first Jewish weekly was the Jewish Criterion (1895-1962), followed by the American Jewish Outlook (1934-1962). As these two newspapers folded in 1962, The Jewish Chronicle was founded, and is known today as the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Planting and harvesting.

Over these past weeks, members of the Chronicle board have written about their involvement in Jewish life in Pittsburgh. For me, community is the hub of the wheel which connects the many spokes of my interests and involvement — Jewish education, spiritual and ritual expression, political action, actualizing Jewish tradition and customs, and embracing our city’s diversity.

As a member of the Chronicle board during these last several years, I have been an active witness and participant to its ups and downs and to our difficult discussions and decisions. There has always been a beacon of light which has pulled us forward — those who support the Chronicle. Individuals and organizations who believe in the value of community, or those who want to share their simchas and sadness, or others who desire a touchstone to connect in an actual way to the Jewish world. There are a myriad of reasons to receive the Chronicle each week, whether on your computer or in your mailbox.

Planting and harvesting.

Each of us is a link, connecting the “I” with the “we,” creating a collective embrace, which is so very necessary in our present reality. As we can be lifted up and strengthened by our participation in community, so too should we recognize and appreciate the important role that the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle plays in our lives.

Please consider becoming a link in our collective whole by providing needed financial support to the Chronicle so that the life of our community can continue to develop and thrive — not only for our present, but also for our future.

We plant and we harvest. PJC

Malke Frank is a member of the board of trustees of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and a founding member of The New Community Chevra Kadisha of Greater Pittsburgh.

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