Last Friday I was in Toronto for the Jewish Federations of North America National Young Leadership Cabinet retreat. The retreat includes Jewish learning, lessons on leadership and fundraising skill building and is always inspiring. Cabinet is one of the preeminent training grounds for young leaders for both the Jewish Federation system and the Jewish world. In fact, in any Federation Board room and at the national Federation level, there are always countless Cabinet members and alums in major leadership positions. My job in Toronto was to frame our Federation’s response to the October 27th attack and explain why having a strong Federation is so critical.
Other speakers that morning deeply moved me. One, a member of Cabinet, talked about the fact that his wife who he met in college, was born in Russia. If it weren’t for the work of Federations, she would have never made it to the United States and he wouldn’t be the father of four beautiful children today.
Another member of Cabinet who spoke has terminal brain cancer. She talked about why her annual support of Federation is so important as she considers the legacy she will leave her three children, all under the age of 8. She wants to make sure that when they think about their mom and what was important to her, they will understand that supporting Jewish community was a priority. I can’t even imagine…..
One other presenter came from Houston. She and her husband were long time Federation supporters in her community. Then, Hurricane Harvey hit. She relayed the story of how her entire house was flooded and only recently she and her family were able to move back in. They received major support from their Federation to help them get back on their feet. She went, overnight, from donor to recipient. This Houston story was extra special and meaningful because several of our Pittsburgh volunteer leaders helped Houston in major ways after the Hurricane.
The reach of our work is profound. I feel so lucky to have been part of this year’s Cabinet retreat because it reJEWvenated me. That reJEWvenation came not only from the content of the speeches but perhaps, even more so, from being in a room with 260 of our North American future Jewish leaders.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom.