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My Year at the Federation in Perspective

Last week, I was walking the trails of the woods behind the Federation, helping Dan get ready for camp, when I picked a white head of what was once a dandelion. In Israel, this white-headed flower has been given the nickname ‘Saba’ [Grandpa], and kids make a wish before they blow on its seeds. This moment of anticipation for the summer made me realize, it has been a year since I began my work here.

We have been here through the summer, the changes of the leaves, the snow and the blossoms – a standard circle for you folks, but a first for me. And even though I am sure it would be a very amusing column if I described the first time I shoveled snow, believe me there was no greater achievements than me not sliding into a street sign on a stormy day – like the Federation’s first Date Night.

So how to measure success? What should I write about? Do I start with last year’s camp? Camp Ideal’s profit margin? The unheard-of number of kids? Or my personal favorite, the number of kids extending their participation? Should I talk about the ShiShuk project that started at camp and continued throughout the year? About its educational value? Its donations? Or is it the Fall Fest when we ran out of parking spaces? Or maybe the Holocaust Education Speaker’s Bureau first year in which we went to schools and gave dozens of presentations? Or the weekly programs that we don’t talk about, like BnD (Bagels and Dragons) and Hebrew for adults? This year deserves more than a 400-word article in the OCN, yet all I could come up with is this incomplete, superficial and scattered list.

There is only one question from above that I want to ask myself – How do I measure this years success? I think by traffic. By filling these, not-that-long-ago, empty walls with the laughter of children and mundane conversations. Reviving our community from the trauma of Covid. Knowing that there is still a lot of work to be done. I think kids make a wish before blowing a white dandelion head in hopes the wind will carry their wish wherever it needs to go. If I were to make a wish, I would have asked that we would never treat community and culture as privileges again. For they are what makes us human.

Shirlee Greenwald
Israel Program Director
574-233-1164 x1807

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