I grew up as a poor kid in Philadelphia. My father, an orphan, sold stockings out of a white van on the street. We did not attend synagogue or Hebrew school because there was absolutely no extra money to pay for dues. But my life changed at age eleven. Because of an anonymous donation and the generosity of the Greater Federation of Philadelphia and the Golden Slipper Clubs and Charities, I was able to attend a Jewish overnight camp in the Pocono Mountains. That experience set in motion my journey to provide for others, and I have never forgotten why I support Federation.
Over the past few years, when I was privileged to visit Federation projects in Israel, Ethiopia, and Boulder, I have seen with my own eyes the amazing accomplishments of Federation and its partners.
During a mission trip to Israel, we helped Yemenite women at a shelter in Be’ersheva. Each woman owned only a single pair of shoes, and they all were facing domestic abuse. We spent time in Ramat Negev, our Federation sister city, meeting teens who emigrated from their Eastern countries. We were able to spend a few short hours in Sdterot on the Gaza border, speaking with health professionals about post-traumatic stress and talking with blast survivors from Katusha rockets. (We did so while underneath the protection of a bomb shelter. These bomb shelters, provided by Federation, each cost ten thousand dollars.) We watched tiny dancers from poor families in Lod dance at the JCC in stocking feet because shoes were out of the question. Our Colorado Federation group collected money on the spot to provide shoes for these little girls.
On a similarly funded Federation mission trip to Addis Abbas, we met men and women who had never seen toothbrushes, and we taught them how to use them. We taught Ethiopian women ready to immigrate to Israel how to use a toilet and buckle an airplane seat belt. On that same Federation trip, we saw children with large, curious eyes strapped to their homeless mothers’ backs, and we fed them.
I have been lucky enough to embark on many trips with Federation, however, it is important to remember that the needs are not only global and nor is the support that our Federation provides. Our own neighborhoods, our own neighbors have needs that are met by the Federation. In Boulder, the eleventh grade class at the Hebrew High School in the JCC anxiously awaits their opportunity to visit their Jewish roots in Israel. Federation has provided generous subsidies to IST families for many years, ensuring that lack of money is never a reason not to go. Jewish Family Service hosts an amazing Passover seder every spring for everyone in need. JFS also receives funding from Federation.
Why am I telling my story, you ask? I am sharing my path to Federation in the hopes that it illuminates yours. Please join me for dinner at CHOICES on November 9th from 6-9 p.m. at the Sheraton in downtown Denver and help support all of the important work of Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado. There will even be a bus going from Boulder to the event so parking and driving is not an issue. CHOICES is made possible by a generous gift from Sue Allon and several other donors, so there is NO charge to attend. A $200.00 minimum pledge to core funds payable by December 31, 2012 is requested in return.
We are VERY excited to announce that the speaker for CHOICES this year will be Tzipi Livni, the current Israeli Opposition Leader and the leader of Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset. The evening will be fascinating, filled with incredible shared experiences and inspiring stories. Join 1,200 other Jewish women and help Jews in need everywhere. We need you!