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I Believe …

by Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor, Community

I don’t write editorials for every issue of Community, and often when I do, they are not personal stories. This time, I am going to get personal.

When I came to Community more than 23 years ago, I was truly a neophyte to the world of the organized Jewish community. I knew I had the skills to write for and edit the paper and I strongly identified as a Jew. I didn’t have a clue about the extraordinary things the Federation does.

It didn’t take long for that to change. Just a few months after starting here, I knew that I had found my home and that I was fully committed to the Federation’s mission and passionate about the work we do. That commitment and passion are just as strong today.

I believe the Jewish Community of Louisville, with all its constituent parts – the Jewish Federation of Louisville, the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Foundation of Louisville, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Hillel and Community, along with the infrastructure, programs and services we offer – strives to meet the needs of the entire Louisville Jewish community today and for the future.

I believe the JCL listens to its constituents in identifying those needs and seeks to collaborate with congregations, agencies and individuals to devise the best ways to meet those needs.

I believe the JCL strives to be transparent in all it does – from the costs associated with the Annual Federation Campaign to the allocations process to the strategic planning process underway. The Planning and Allocations Committee members are drawn from across the community and represent many different constituencies. The JCL has to make a presentation to the committee, just like every community agency and institution that receives allocations from the Campaign, and it has to demonstrate that it is a good steward of the funds it receives.

I believe that by consolidating the resources of infrastructure, administration, the finance department, human resources and Marketing, the JCL provides a strong foundation for the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center, minimizing costs, maximizing effectiveness and providing easily accessible and comprehensive newspaper and electronic communications.

I believe the JCC and Federation provide opportunities for individuals to explore and strengthen their Jewish identities by supporting Jewish education, offering Jewish programming, providing scholarships for Jewish camp and Israel trips, connecting Louisvillians to Israelis in a myriad of creative ways through Partnership 2Gether, offering missions and more.

I believe the JCC provides quality programming for teens, engaging them in Teen Connections in middle school and encouraging them to continue to be active through BBYO in high school. Through these programs teens participate in active Jewish life and make friendships with other Jewish teens – in Louisville, in the Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio region, across North America and even in Israel – that last a lifetime.

I believe that Hillel on the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University campuses helps Jewish college students to interact with each other, celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays, share Jewish traditions with non-Jewish students and faculty and have the resources they need to address anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities on campus.

I believe that the JCC makes a real difference in the quality of life for our seniors, by providing hot kosher lunches five days a week – in a congregate setting or delivered meals-on-wheels to those who can’t come to the Center – whether or not they can afford to pay. The JCC also sees to their overall wellbeing by offering opportunities for socialization, travel, theater, chorus, arts, crafts and exercise programs tailored to individual needs.

I believe that through the JCC, individuals and families can enjoy healthy bodies with many choices for exercise and fun and intellectual challenges through theater, adult classes and art exhibitions. There are early childhood and onsite J-Play options, too.

I believe the JCRC ensures that the Jewish community’s interests are addressed in the greater community – working with schools to ensure the rights of Jewish students are respected; building bridges with other faith communities enabling us to collaborate on common issues; educating the greater community about the Holocaust, Jewish holidays and traditions; keeping communication open with elected officials and monitoring legislation; and advocating for Israel.

I believe the Federation provides support for Jewish Family & Career Services, helping them to offer their services on a sliding scale, offer free support groups that address issues important to the Jewish community and helping them to maintain their own infrastructure so they can continue to do their vital work in the community.

I believe the JCC and Federation support Israel, providing funding for Partnership and programs like Kivunim – which offers support services that enable disabled young adults in the Western Galilee the opportunity to maximize their capabilities, Birthright Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel and more.

I believe in the support the Federation provides to the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) that enables us to fulfill our commitment to Jews-at-risk around the world because we are our brothers’ keeper.

The more I write, the more I want to add to the list because I believe that all of this is the work we do and I am passionate about it. I truly believe that together, we do extraordinary things.

I also know that none of this is possible without the Annual Federation Campaign. That is why I make a stretch gift every year and am proud to be a member of the Pomegranate Division ($1800-4999 a year) and wish that I could afford to become a Lion of Judah ($5000 minimum). That is why, even if it were not part of my job, I would volunteer for Super Sunday.

Please join me in supporting the 2014 Federation Campaign. When a Super Sunday volunteer calls you this Sunday, please give generously. Or don’t wait for the call – pledge online at jewishlouisville.org/donate or call 238-2739 or drop a check in the mail to 3600 Dutchmans Lane, 40205.

It is only when all of us come together that we can continue to do extraordinary things.

 

 

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