Next week, I will be in Jerusalem, just for the weekend, to speak to the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) about what happened in Pittsburgh and how we as a community have rallied. JAFI is one of the largest beneficiaries of Federation dollars and its Board of Governors is comprised of Jews from every corner of the world. This organization positively impacts Jewish life in countless ways. Traditionally known for its work to provide services for Aliyah and Klitah (absorption of new immigrants), JAFI now is additionally focused on building Jewish identity in communities around the world through programs such as MASA. MASA enables young people in the diaspora to experience Israel through extended programs that last between 5 months and a year. JAFI is also the force behind the global program Partnership 2Gether that has facilitated our Pittsburgh community’s connection with Karmiel and Misgav.
Partnership2Gether (formerly known as Partnership 2000) was developed just as the relationship between Israel and diaspora communities was morphing from one where the “rich” Americans provided for the growth of the State of Israel to one of mutual partnership. P2G brings leaders from Pittsburgh and Karmiel/Misgav to a unified table to discuss, plan and implement programs that let us work with and get to know each other. It is one of the most important things our Federation does.
That evolution of our relationship with the people of Israel has shown itself in the response to October 27th. Two days after 11 kedoshim (holy spirits) were slaughtered and 2 brave members of our community were severely wounded, the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) was on the ground helping our mental health professionals by providing them with the tools and knowledge to deal with the kind of trauma that our community had not ever seen. Our mental health professionals on the ground in Pittsburgh raved about the lessons learned from ITC. ITC’s trip was funded in part by the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government. ITC is now planning a second trip to work with mental health professionals for an entire week. Once again, JAFI will be subsidizing their time in Pittsburgh, along with our Federation.
When I stand in front of the Board of Governors of JAFI, I will be expressing our community’s profound gratitude for their show of solidarity and support. In the back of my mind, I will know that through this Jewish Agency platform, worldwide Jewry has stretched its arms out to us in Pittsburgh and embraced us in a loving way.