Jeremy J. Fingerman

Our Holiday of Hope

Courtesy: Foundation for Jewish Camp |

We will soon gather for the Passover Seder, yet we know this year’s celebration of the holiday will be tempered by our collective experiences since October 7th. How can we celebrate our Zman Cheruteinu – time of our redemption – when 133 hostages remain in captivity underground in Gaza?

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of 23-year-old Israeli hostage Hersh (and recently named to Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in 2024) repeats frequently, “Hope is mandatory.” She has articulated a much-needed clarion call for optimism, perseverance, and hope. I have found myself recently repeating her mantra over the past few months.

Another name for Passover captures that sense of hope. Chag HaAviv – the holiday of Spring – reflects the reawakening of nature (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Nature’s annual cycle gives us hope. From darkness and anxiety to more sunshine and warmth, we can sense the growing excitement for summertime.

For the Jewish camp field, these days are inherently filled with hope and optimism as more than 180,000 chanichim (campers) and madrichim (counselors) count down the days until they will be reunited once again at their happy and safe place, their home away from home.

Our dedicated camp professionals – experienced and inspired Jewish educators – have been working hard to capture the essence of Jewish connection, resilience, and positivity. The first of 300+ camps across North America will open in less than fifty days and, regardless of their location (north or south, east or west), anticipation continues to build for a summer of joyous Judaism, needed now more than ever before.

Unplugged from their devices and the divisive world of social media, today’s campers will find freedom from their screens, substituted by endless days immersed outdoors in nature, the joy of celebrating their Jewish identity in a safe space, and the ability to simply be themselves. They need this time to be free.

The days since October 7th have certainly taken their toll on Jews globally. We have all experienced varying degrees of trauma and as a community we both need to help rebuild in Israel and continue to fortify Jewish life in North America and throughout the Diaspora. Collectively, we need to heal and sustain our hope.

Passover must be our holiday of hope. We will remember our ancestors departing Egyptian slavery to return to the Promised Land as free people. We will recall, “in every generation our enemies stand up to destroy us, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, redeems us from their hands.” As we gather for Passover, let us hold onto hope, remembering those still in captivity and praying for their safe return.

Chag Pesach Sameach – may your Passover be illuminated with light and filled with hope for a brighter tomorrow.

About the Author
Jeremy J. Fingerman has served as CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) since 2010. Prior to joining FJC, he had a highly-regarded 20+ year career in Consumer Packaged Goods, beginning at General Mills, Inc, then at Campbell Soup Company, where he served as president of its largest division, US Soup. In 2005, he was recruited to serve as CEO of Manischewitz. Jeremy, a former board Vice-Chair of JPRO (the network of Jewish communal professionals), received the 2023 Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from Brandeis University.
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