There are heroes among us, every day. These are people who do extraordinary things from whom we all benefit. Our heroes are our Federation donors, leaders, volunteers, cheerleaders and staff. Many of our heroes serve in multiple capacities and jump in to help every day in many different ways. We are grateful to all of our Federation heroes.
Why are so many people heroic? It is quite simple: we do extraordinary things that build a strong Jewish future for all of us through philanthropy, education, engagement and advocacy. I want to share a few examples with you of our work in Rochester and around the globe that showcase why so many in our community support Federation.
This month is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month.
Over the last two years, the Federation has focused much energy and resources on enhancing inclusion in the Jewish community. In fact, many of the directors and teachers of our early childhood and religious school programs have been mentored and trained by Matan, the leading training organization in the Jewish community for special needs and inclusion. While at first glance one may think that this is not a critical issue for the Jewish community, when one examines the statistics a bit more carefully, the need becomes quite clear. Did you know that 15-20% of children and youth ages 3-21 have a diagnosed learning disability? One in 68 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Roughly 200,000 students in the Jewish community nationally have special needs.
By helping our community meet the educational needs of all, we are ensuring that everyone has the opportunity learn our rich Jewish history and culture.
On March 19th, 2017 at 10:00 am at the JCC the Federation, in collaboration with the JCC’s Lane Dworkin Jewish Book Festival, will sponsor Liane Kupferberg Carter, the author of Ketchup Is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up With Autism, to speak in Rochester. This program will help illuminate the challenges families face with children on the autism spectrum.
Because of the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews will never be refugees ever again. Our history is one that sadly showcases the tragedy of not having a place to call home. Through our work in Israel that provides for the social welfare of the most vulnerable, we ensure that Israel is safe and strong and able to protect any Jew who is not able to live freely. We have resettled Jews from around the globe and we continue to bring people to safety in Israel every day.
Additionally, our work in 70 counties around the globe makes sure that our most vulnerable Jews are cared for and have the necessities one needs not only to survive, but thrive. We provide food, shelter, heat, and education to people around the globe. Wherever there is a person who needs us, a hero is there to provide and protect.
An important focus of the work of Federation is providing opportunity for all people to engage in Jewish life in ways that are meaningful and impactful. At any age, Federation provides an entrée point for people to connect with Jewish life. Through our PJ Library Program, Teens, Community Relations, Philanthropic Engagement, Women’s Philanthropy, 20s and 30s, Sherut, Leadership Development and other programs, we create a place and a space for everyone in our community to connect. In other words, we all have the opportunity to be heroes by participating in Federation.
At this weekend’s Super Sunday phone-a-thon, one of our single largest fundraising days, you can actually be a super hero in a variety of ways. Bring your cape and come and make calls. Make a pledge to the annual campaign. Encourage others to give and support our work. These small acts of heroism make a big difference.
In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, we read about the Israelites’ escape from Egypt. We learn that the Israelites reached the teeming shores of the Red Sea with Egyptians rapidly approaching. In a true courageous act, one man, Nachshon, entered the turbulent waters and not until the waters reach his nose did they begin to part. As the sea parted, the Israelites followed Nachson to safety. We all have the ability to be a Nachshon and take one small step that potentially yields monumental results, this weekend and all year long.
Thank you to all of our community members who support the efforts of our Federation every day. You are certainly my heroes.
Shabbat Shalom -