After reading our Chair Brian Tauber’s reflections last week, I found myself thinking about the simplicity of the question, WTF (“Why The Federation”)? Brian eloquently stated that “the why” and “the what” of our work hasn’t changed in over a century. He is so right.
Just this week, we read about our global Jewish community’s response to the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) provides critical resources to survivors through local, on-the-ground partners. As it has for much of the last century, our partners at the JDC make us proud as they (and by extension, YOU) embody the Jewish values of Tikkum Olam through its incredible work. JDC CEO, David Schizer, shares:
“Our hearts go out…to the people of Indonesia…who find themselves in need of immediate care and tools to better prepare themselves for future crises. As Jews around the world gather...to celebrate the conclusion of our High Holiday season, we are keenly aware of our blessings, our responsibility to repair a broken world (“the why”), and the need to act now to deliver hope (“the what”) to those facing so much despair.”
Personally, I find this demonstration of our Jewish values to be both inspiring and uplifting. I am proud to work for an organization that takes care of Jews in need, builds community AND “delivers hope to those facing so much despair.”
I know I am not alone in identifying with this part of our global humanitarian mission. Members of our own community are set to embark on a weeklong trip to Bulgaria and to Greece, organized in partnership between your Federation and the JDC. Trip leaders Jessica and Richard Effress are proud to be a part of this effort that will remind members of our community of the needs facing vulnerable Jews around the world – among them poverty, inadequate living conditions, and, for many elderly, having to choose between food and medicine.
At the same time, the group will be introduced to the incredible renewal and revitalization efforts that are taking place throughout global Jewish communities, and will see firsthand how young Jews are hungry to create community and vibrancy in their own backyards.
For the Effresses, their motivation to participate in this JDC-Federation partnership trip lies in their personal desire to provide funding in areas where collective donations of a small group can make a meaningful imprint on a community to address identified needs.
“In Eastern Europe, a little funding goes a long way,” they shared. “It is also important for us that the beneficiaries have the human and financial resources to take the program to the next level after our initial support.”
These community leaders also hope to form a continuing two-way relationship and partnership with the community they support, as well as a bond among the San Diego cohort.
“We hope our efforts will inspire the formation of other Impact Networks both in San Diego and around the country,” they said, adding their appreciation to JDC for its global impact and the added value that Federation brings to the San Diego community.
When Brian shared examples of how we are doing what we are doing, he offered wonderful stories about engaging unaffiliated Jews, bringing young people to Israel through My Israel Journey, sending Jewish youth to summer camp, and engaging teens. I would add that Federation also makes it possible for our local community to help Jewish communities in need around the world.
We can and should be true to ourselves and to the “why/what” of the Federation. We ought to be proud that we continue to help Jews in need. We build community. We also live the values of Tikkun Olam and foster a sense of Jewish pride and peoplehood that I believe can, and will, continue to inspire many in our community to do good.