A fabulous JCC with state-of-the-art exercise equipment, seniors playing mahj, a preschool with adorable children, and a memorial to the Holocaust. A day school with Hebrew words and Judaica covering the walls. A gorgeous facility for seniors, with shared kitchen facilities in every unit. I could be describing our Pittsburgh Jewish community’s renowned institutions. In this case, I am actually highlighting the Youngstown, Ohio, Jewish community.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to travel to Youngstown to meet with and train volunteer campaigners. More than 30 people turned out in a community of fewer than 1,700 individuals! Their dedication and devotion was awe-inspiring.
In Pittsburgh, I have the sense that our community may be growing and, for sure, we are attracting young adults. Youngstown is quite the opposite as it continues to shrink, with very, very few young adults joining the ranks. Despite this reality, the dedicated volunteers of Youngstown commit themselves to doing everything they can to work toward what our own Federation’s vision statement says: “A thriving, vibrant and engaged Jewish community.”
In our solicitation training, we talked about the difference we all make in the world. We often see what is happening in our own “neck of the woods” but sometimes lose sight of the impact we are having in the lives of Jews in far-off countries. One such place is Ukraine. We have all been watching the news about the conflict in the eastern part of this country. There are many Jews there, and our system of agencies is working to help them. Instead of my writing about our support, I encourage you to read this article, which appeared in yesterday’s Times of Israel: http://www.timesofisrael.com/jewish-communities-decimated-in-eastern-ukraine/.For most Americans, the story in Ukraine is just a news story. For each of us, we need to remember that it impacts our people. Thank you for supporting the Federation, through which you remember that Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh (All Israel is responsible one for the other).