by Tzivia Levin, YAD Director/Hillel Director
It is hard to believe that I have already been in Louisville for over a year and half working for JCL’s Young Adult Division. I distinctly remember my first few weeks here when everything seemed so confusing, and I was busy trying to adjust to the life and culture in Louisville. When I look back, I realize how much the community was able to accomplish in a short time, and how much lies in front of us for the near future.
When I arrived in Louisville, merger was a high point of discussion, but did not seem close to being a reality. I attended the Yachad Kadima summit and various others meetings. I was also at the board meeting last April when the official papers were signed consummating the merger. Although there was excitement surrounding the meeting, I wondered when I would actually feel a difference in my life as a JCL professional.
While there are still many aspects of the merger that need to be sorted out, I am seeing progress in many areas, particularly in YAD, which is moving forward in a very positive direction. YAD hosted a fundraiser last fall at 21c Museum Hotel, raising a total of $47,308. This seemed like a high number then, but when Bill Yarmuth issued his challenge grant at the Major Gifts dinner, it forced YAD to rethink its entire fundraising goal. Mr. Yarmuth said that if YAD doubled the amount raised at the fundraiser, he would contribute an additional $50,000 to the campaign.
While I was confident that the task was doable, I knew that a lot of time and effort had to be invested in order to succeed. Thanks to the perseverance of YAD co-chairs Jennifer Tuvlin and Michael Salamon, YAD reached and exceeded this goal through telethons, e-mails and one-on-one solicitations, and with the help of other YAD volunteers.
The pledges raised during this challenge have a value greater than the actual dollar amount, as seven others stepped up to add to Mr. Yarmuth’s challenge at different levels such as a penny, nickel or dime on the dollar. Meeting this challenge is an accomplishment that the entire YAD division should be proud of.
In other fundraising news, the Ben Gurion Society has seven new members. Dr. Julie Ellis stepped up to chair the BGS, and I look forward to working with her on creating exciting programs. The Ben Gurion Society is open to all YAD members who make leadership gifts of at least $1,000 to the JCL Annual Campaign.
In addition to fundraising, YAD has planned many other programs throughout the year, including a purely social event where YAD members could enjoy an evening out together. Chaired by Seth Gladstein and hosted by the Pointe, YAD enjoyed a fun evening of music, drinks and the NCAA tournament. I look forward to more social events in the future.
YAD also responded to younger members in their 20’s who want special activities specifically for their age group. Co-sponsored by The Temple, this new subgroup has had two social events and is looking to plan a volunteer project.
YAD has been working on reinstating leadership development programs designed to help people learn the necessary skills to become community leaders. Sean Wachsman successfully chaired LEADS, a three-session introductory leadership program. Participants were exposed to many aspects of the Jewish community, and participated in interactive exercises. We are in the midst of planning the Young Leadership Development Program, a two-year course designed to give participants an intensive leadership training experience.
Shalom Baby, a program for babies ages newborn-18 months and their parents, has sponsored several events throughout the year, including a masquerade party and a nutrition class. We are looking for a new group of families with babies in this age range to join for the coming year.
Hillel has also had a strong year. It recently became an official Registered Student Organization at the University of Louisville, which gives it access to student government funds, facilities and enables it to have a larger presence of campus. It will be instrumental as Hillel grows and makes an increased effort to promote pro Israel events on campus.
Hillel is the place for Jewish students to meet, learn about Jewish issues, find support when they encounter challenges related to being Jewish and a home away from home where they can just be Jewish. It sponsors social and educational events from holiday observances to progressive dinners. Hillel also serves students at Bellarmine University, Spalding University and all metroversity schools.
I also had the privilege of helping to coordinate this year’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust commemoration. It was very meaningful to work directly with the survivors, and I was pleased to see the large crowd that attended the program to honor and remember the victims and to reinforce the lessons of the Holocaust.
While the past year has been very successful, YAD needs continued volunteer support in order to prosper. If you would like to be involved in any capacity whether its Campaign, planning social events, leadership programs or Shalom Baby, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I see the upcoming months as a very pivotal time in the Louisville Jewish community, and I hope that you will all make the decision to participate in some way.
The year ahead looks very exciting and promising, and I look forward to continuing to work with the YAD division.