I have been part of a Federation family for my entire life. Both of my parents served as unparalleled examples of leadership in the Jewish community, both locally and nationally. From a young age, I heard the Jewish community describe their Federation gift as a “Jewish Tax” – and not derisively. Through the years, the idea that one MUST support Jewish causes – and, specifically, Federation – created tension and angst amongst the Federation movement as succeeding generations rejected this mandate. Federations now have to define themselves in a manner so that people WANT to support their efforts. I agree. We cannot and should not TELL people what to do with their hard-earned money. Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam are personal decisions and ones increasingly benefitting non-Jewish endeavors. The changes at our Federation are in pursuit of that very objective: to connect people to their passions within the Jewish community to INSPIRE them to support our activities.
Well, I am wrong. As much as I sincerely believe that, even as Jews, supporting out of obligation is nonsensical, I have come upon at least one exception. We have an obligation as Jews. We have an obligation to ensure that Holocaust survivors live out their lives in dignity. We owe them. We owe the people who survived the most unimaginable horror in human history. We owe those who endured the torture and murder of their friends and family who suffered simply for being Jewish. If ever we, as Jews, had an obligation, it is to these incredible people.
We have the opportunity to make a difference.
In collaboration with Jewish Family Service, the Federation has come to learn about some new realities affecting San Diego’s Holocaust survivor population that surprise me. Not only do needs exist, but they are growing. Survivors are living longer, often past their financial means. National and international funds for their support are dwindling. Many live in unacceptable conditions. Their daily needs are not being met. They are isolated.
We have an obligation to make a difference.
Through Federation’s Aging Initiative, and in partnership with Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Community Foundation, we are leading the formation of the Holocaust Survivor Coalition to address these urgent, emerging needs. Through the Coalition, we will activate the entire community to ensure that we fulfill our OBLIGATION to these incredible survivors to whom we owe so much. Taking care of survivors is not something any one organization can or should be asked to do alone. It is about community.
We look forward to unveiling the specifics of this initiative and recruiting organizations and people throughout the community as the Coalition clearly identifies the needs and solutions. But we also invite you contact us at SurvivorsNOW@jewishfederationsandiego.org to get involved and to learn more.
We have the honor to give to those who gave far too much.