Over a millennium, the shaping of space into communities has engaged the Jewish people from the Sinai desert to the American Midwest, and in particular, right here in Michiana. Nurturing community is an important and ongoing endeavor in our daily lives.
Today, the Federation has entered into a three-year structured plan to build a greater community right here at home. It is a plan that holds unique, perhaps even historic promise for all of us.
After one-and-a-half months of fighting, the war continues in Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians, including tens of thousands of Jews, have fled the country and millions of others are internally displaced. Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the most needy. Jewish Federations have raised more than $50 million for Ukrainian relief efforts since the fighting began.
Helping those who are in search of a personal relationship with Israel is an honor. Helping those who don’t understand Israel, or don’t take the time to on their own is a duty. The Jewish Federation will hopefully soon be the place that helps our community make those connections for themselves as well.
As I was looking through the materials in my office, I noticed a Self-Care Checklist buried under some papers. It is a colorful sheet which I unearthed and shared on our Friends of JFS group on Facebook (Please join our group). It made me wonder how many of us are really taking care of ourselves.
As I wipe my damp eyes and compose a letter, I’m reminded of something called hope. Hope loiters, almost invisible, patiently waiting for such times as these.
Last month, we announced an effort to raise money for the suffering people of Ukraine. The goal was $18,000 — a lot.
When I was little, my mother often referred to me as being a picky eater. There were a lot of things that I didn’t like. An example would be tomatoes. Tomatoes were on the bad list, which included any tomato product. Even ketchup was something I could only handle in extreme moderation. That’s a very strong dislike, considering that most kids consider ketchup to be tomatoes in their best form.
I am beyond excited for my 9th summer working at camp. As I adjust to my new position here at the Federation, I find myself becoming more appreciative of the community we have cultivated at Camp Ideal. A lot of our camp staff conversations involve the day-to-day, but my favorite ones are when we talk about how to build each relationship with every camper. We work together to ensure each camper relates to all our staff.
Last fall Laura Kovnat and Ruth Kremer led a diaper drive at Temple B’nai Shalom that collected more than 1000 diapers and numerous containers of baby wipes for St. Joseph / Benton Harbor. The total effort collected more than 5000 diapers for the Berrien County Health Department and a convenient Benton Harbor location, the Center for Better Health, an outreach center sponsored by the local hospital.