In 1969, while traveling in Greece as a young college student, I was struck by the vibrant Jewish community I found in Athens - a community that had flourished for centuries and had built a strong infrastructure to ensure its continuity. Fast forward to the summer of 2014. It is my first day as Interim CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, and I am landing in Athens with 150 Jewish lay leaders and professionals on a Federation mission to Greece and Israel. Never before involved with the Federation, I had no idea what to expect. We were told to expect a Jewish community on the verge of collapse due to a continuing economic crisis that engulfed the country, a community that faced the impending closure of its synagogues, the loss of kosher food and closure of the only Jewish day school and Jewish summer camp in the country.
To our surprise, we were greeted by a grateful community a community that boasted of its vibrant Jewish Day School, its popular Jewish summer camp, and their new Rabbi. Embraced by parents, young people and the elderly who unequivocally said that without the infusion of funds from the Federations, they would have collapsed. We experienced a community filled with hope because of the direct support they received from our North American Federation movement.
I spent the rest of my day visiting the Athens Jewish Day School with my new friend who, as you can see, was beaming with hope, joy and pride as he led us through the school that, if not for us, would have been closed. He was introduced to his extended global "family" who made it possible for him to continue his studies and fulfill his dream of studying medicine in Israel.
I boarded the plan a few days earlier clueless about what the Federation was all about. After seeing first hand what a collective body of concerned people can do, I finally "got it!"
We do not stand idly by when people are in need. We are a proactive community that easily mobilizes and responds in ways that have a direct, tangible, observable impact on the lives of others.
There are thousands of stories just like this that demonstrate the impact we have on individuals, families and communities locally, in Israel and around the world. Whether it be in Greater Hartford, the Former Soviet Union, extracting Jews from war torn Ukraine or making sure our children receive the best possible education, every story starts with you. Thanks to you, we can do lifesaving, lifechanging work.
We have been busy collecting stories from our community about how Federation has changed people's lives. Looking at the composite of all of these incredible stories has convinced me more than ever that when we join together and harness our collective energy and resources, we can and do significantly impact so many groups of people in so many different ways.
In honor of our 70th Anniversary, the Federation is about to embark on its "70 Days of Impact", an exciting new way to bringing personal, meaningful stories that demonstrate ways in which people have directly experienced the impact of Federation in their lives.
Each and every story begins with people like you who deeply care for the continuity of Jewish life and the acts of human kindness that are shown to the most vulnerable among us. For the next ten weeks we will weave a quilt of wonderful stories that blankets our community with a sense of purpose, of comfort and of hope. But it is the pride we share, standing shoulder to shoulder, as we together begin to "Repair the World" story by story.
President & CEO