Last night, 34 people gathered at our home for our annual Seder or Pesach. This is a richly textured gathering of many faiths and identities, and the 21st year we’ve hosted. In the being and the teachings from the service that Howard Ross wrote many years ago, we acknowledge what some consider to be the mantras of Judaism: remembering, optimism, faith, family, and responsibility (Aish.com) We bring our collective focus to relieving suffering and injustice for all in a precious community. Not unique to the Jewish faith, these tenets have deeply informed our values and principles at Cook Ross, which are identified after each section.
Jews remember the 40-year journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land, and as such remember the flight of refugees, as well as those who are displaced, forgotten, or invisible to society. We remember so that our lives become filled with purpose and meaning, and to ensure that the oppression experienced by the Jews doesn’t happen to others. (Cook Ross value: Social Justice/Diversity)
Optimism gives Jews hope to be able to recreate themselves, to seek liberation from oppressors, whether they be internal or external. For the Jews, it was the ability to reframe the conditioning of slavery they experienced in Egypt to be able to thrive in Israel. For all, it’s to be able to see where we shackle ourselves, and have hope to free ourselves from our own conditioning. MLK was deeply stirred by the vision of Moses leading his people to the Promised Land in his own leadership for civil rights for all. (Cook Ross value: Inner work)
Faith to the Jews is one of a personal relationship with G-d. It is this personal accountability that gives Jews such a strong conscience and responsibility for themselves and the rest of the world. And it is this faith that gives the certainty that there will be a better day, a better world. This is why tikkun olam – efforts to improve the world – is a core philosophy to Jews, and to us at Cook Ross. (Cook Ross value: Love)
Jews, like people of many other faiths, place strong focus on family, especially children. G-ds teaching in the Jewish faith is that the way to perfect the world is to begin with our own families. Children are front and center in Jewish homes, and their learning is paramount. (This is perhaps one reason why 20% of all Nobel prize winners in the 20th Century are Jewish, and represent less than one quarter of one percent of the world’s population!) We of course have a much larger definition of family at Cook Ross, which is why the notion of family is so important to our culture here. (Cook Ross value: Inclusion)
Finally, Jews take on responsibility to have empathy for the pain of the oppressed given their experience over thousands of years and to be generous with those who struggle. “The tragedy of our encounter with injustice was in no small measure meant to prepare us to serve throughout all future generations as spokesmen for those with whose pain we can personally identify…the purpose of our suffering was to turn us into a people committed to righting the wrongs of the world.” (Cook Ross value: Generosity)
So I share these mantras of remembering, optimism, faith, family and responsibility to show the strong connection to our core values and principles of Cook Ross. Although we live them every day, Pesach/Passover calls them forth in very explicit ways. Not mentioned above are the values of Authenticity, and Passion, which inspire the significant efforts to fulfill on the work of Cook Ross. Thank you all for being willing to continue to aspire to a better world through our work together!
Leslie Traub is a Partner and Chairperson of Cook Ross. With more than 30 years of experience leading diversity, inclusion, and change management initiatives, Leslie creates sustainable systems of change that yield greater social belonging, organizational performance, and possibility.