Dear Friends,

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t publicly “mused” for a while. Since I no longer run large organizations (with built in audiences) and social media is not my thing, my musings – which were never all that consistent in the first place – fell to the wayside.

But now Passover is coming and Passover is always a time of reflection and remembrance for me. Of course Nisan marks one of the Jewish new years, but it also marks the beginning of my own new life here in America. My family immigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976, appropriately enough, right at Passover. And, as is so common for American Jewish families, Passover is a time that I spend together with family, another opportunity for reflection.

Since last Passover, lots of big family moments have happened for ne: my older son graduated from college, my younger son became a bat mitzvah, my older daughter got engaged, and my younger daughter began studying for her bat mitzvah. Oh – and I turned sixty.

The company I started when I left The Jewish Agency – ZANDAFI Philanthropic Advisors – is thriving. We are helping foundations and philanthropists do their grant making in a strategic, thoughtful and satisfying way. And we work with a variety of non-for-profits in Israel and the US on everything from strategic planning to board development, professional recruitment and executive coaching.

And I am, frankly, having the time of my life both personally and professionally – but the world seems to be going crazy around us.

I wonder on occasion whether or not what we are witnessing now is any more or less momentous than what we have lived through previously. There was the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, fears of a nuclear winter. There was a three-way Cold War between the West, the Soviet bloc, and China. The Yom Kippur War, Lebanon, the rise of terrorism. Reagan’s “evil empire” and “Star Wars.” Glasnost. Perestroika. The Berlin Wall. We watched the Soviet Union collapse. The invention of personal computers and the Internet. Google. Space travel, the human genome project. The AIDS epidemic, cloning. The rise of Japan and then China…

And now: the rise of authoritarianism and an assault on free speech and democracy; the triumphant march of populist demagoguery and industrialized propaganda machines against common sense; common decency displaced by a vulgarity and hypocrisy that is seemingly able to get away with just about anything.

It really does seem for the first time in my 42 years in the free world that we may be in danger of losing that freedom. And that is why I find myself publicly musing again. It’s Passover. Let’s remember how tough it has been to obtain that freedom. Let’s fight to keep it.

Pesach Kasher V’Sameach,

Misha

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