JCL Update | March 20, 2015

Throughout the year there are specific events that serve as the best reminders for why we support the Jewish community, locally, around the world and especially in Israel. One of those events occurred this past weekend, as the Jewish Community of Louisville hosted the Steering Committee for our Partnership2Gether region, a consortium of communities in the central region of the US and our Israeli counterparts in the Western Galilee.

At Shabbat dinner Friday evening at Adath Jeshurun, after being treated to a wonderful musical service, Alison and I had the opportunity to sit with our region’s Israeli co-chair, Dr. Michael Aaronson. He has been Partnership co-chair for a year, and this is his first visit to the U.S. in that capacity.

For his day job, Aaronson travels on business. He uses his British passport because of the negative experiences he often has when visiting foreign countries using his Israeli one. And this is in 2015.

What was inspiring to us was when he talked about how emotionally moved he is when he visits Federation offices and upon walking in, being greeted with the sight of a U.S. flag and an Israeli flag, standing next to each other in solidarity. The conversation continued to explore how much positive impact our Partnership region has in educating Israelis in the Western Galilee that we are there to support them.

We expect this from all we have been told by our parents and Jewish community leaders, but to hear it directly from the voice of an Israeli is something entirely different. If you haven’t had the chance to engage in P2G, how about making 2015 the year in which you experience the same prideful emotions we did, just from a simple conversation with an Israeli whom we support?.

I reflected upon our Shabbat conversation Saturday evening as we took our children to CenterStage’s absolutely wonderful performance of Fiddler on the Roof at your JCC. Times have changed since Tevye’s family struggled to survive. Most of Louisville’s Jewish community (though not all) generally can feed, clothe and shelter their families.

For those who cannot, Jewish Family & Career Services and other social service agencies provide needed support by channeling your contributions to those who need it the most. Living here in Louisville, we are blessed not to have to deal with the harshness of life in fictional Anatevka, though not all Jews are so blessed. What Michael told us about his experiences is exactly the same ostracism of the Jewish community Tevye’s family faced.

And the ostracism continues. Look no further than France. Actually, France is pretty far away. Look no further than the U of L campus, where our Hillel students are faced with anti-Israel sentiment through the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement) occurring on campuses nationwide. Near and far, our support is needed. Needed to advocate.  Needed to connect.

No matter where a Jew needs help, Federation’s role is to provide that help. No other organized Jewish agency has as broad a charge. How fortunate we are in Louisville to have a community that supports a Federation.

Help is not only needed for Jews experiencing ostracism. In the case of the Ukraine, that help is needed simply to get our fellow Jews out of a war zone to safety.

And finally, help is not only needed for problem resolution. It’s needed equally as much for Jewish identity strengthening. Take for example, J Forty-Fivers, our brand new leadership development program for Jewish fourth and fifth graders. Yes, leadership development, in preparation for Teen Connection (6-8 grade), BBYO (9-12 grade), Hillel (college), … see a pattern here?

Do you wonder where your contributions go? These are just examples. Helping. Saving. Building. Have you had a chance to lend your support? If yes, on behalf of Jews around the world, thank you. If not, please do so now by visiting www.jewishlouisville.org/donate.

Together we do extraordinary things.

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