Outreach – Connecting to those who've left their native land

I am writing on Thursday night having just left Buffalo Blues in Shadyside.  Our Shalom Pittsburgh(the Federation’s outreach programming arm for 22-45 year olds) effort holds lots of bar nights for our young adults.  I have been to many.  This week, four of our community efforts to reach out and engage Jewish young adults joined forces in a unified bar night.  Shalom Pittsburgh, Moishe House, Repair the World and JBURGH collaborated on making last night a success.  It was the largest turnout I’ve seen for one of these.

As I walked around, I introduced myself to people I did not know and had the opportunity to hear their stories.  One was a recent transplant from Chicago who came here for work in marketing.  I saw how our talented, gregarious staff has already developed a relationship with her and are working to engage her in the community.  Another young couple I spoke with moved here this summer.  He is a graduate student at the Tepper School and she works in marketing.  They relocated from New York City and mentioned to me that they are already talking about the possibility of staying in Pittsburgh once he finishes his Master’s Degree in 2 ½ years.

These four outreach programs work to connect young Jews with each other and to deepen each individual’s sense of connectivity to the Jewish people and our Jewish community.  With the exception of Repair the World (which is funded by big national Jewish foundations), the other three are all funded in part or completely by our Federation.  We invest in all these different types of outreach programs with the recognition that for some young adults, JBURGH programming is the most compelling and for others it may be through Moishe House.  There is no thing as “one size fits all” and our experience tells us that trying to fit everyone neatly into a single category will result in failure.  Failure is not an option.

This week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, begins with G-d instructing Abram to leave his native land.  Isn’t it great that when our young people have left their “native lands” of New York and Chicago to arrive in Pittsburgh, we make them feel welcomed and embraced.

Shabbat Shalom and Go Steelers!

P.S.  A few reminders:  1.  Change your clock  and 2.  GET OUT AND VOTE ON TUESDAY!

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