Supporting Our Family During This Passover Season
By Ronne Hess,
Jewish Community Volunteer Leader
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s work is “our” — the Jewish community’s — story. When we talk about Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, many of us reflect on where our families came from, and often think, “there but for the grace of G-d, go I”…and, my family.
Our Birmingham Jewish Federation has supported JDC through our allocations to the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA — formerly United Jewish Appeal) since its inception. Helping Jews in 70 countries around the world is our story, it is what we do.
About 15 years ago, our Federation instituted a committee, the Israel World Jewry Bureau, to make sure that we were paying attention to Jews around the world. Jews in Israel, Jews in the Former Soviet Union, Jews in India, Cuba, Argentina. We are an all volunteer group who take the time to make sure that the funds we are sending overseas represent the focus and goals of our community. We make sure the agencies we fund are good stewards of the monies we donate and that the monies are spent for the requested program.
The JDC is one of those agencies that IWJB supports. JDC actually receives the largest amount of dollars we contribute. Two members of our IWJB committee are from families who were recipients of services provided by JDC over the years.
These young adults are children of parents who made the decision to leave the Former Soviet Union for a better life — and, because of JDC and others, had the opportunity to do that. Many Jews stayed — they were too old, they were not able, they had no family or connections to help them. We are that family. We are that connection. We are their support system and their life-line.
When this JDC Passover piece arrived on line I clicked on the links and followed the stories of Rita and others. I shared the piece with BJF Programs & Special Projects Coordinator Florina Newcomb, whose family came to Birmingham from Kishinev, Moldova when she was a small child.
Her response was FABULOUS! “I can’t believe there is a Jewish Community Center in Moldova now!” That, is just one of the many things JDC is doing, making sure there is a continuing Jewish life in countries where Jews are — that there are Centers and activities for the children, caretakers for the elderly and home-bound, lending medical equipment for those in need, and meals, both in group settings and individually delivered for those who cannot leave home.
Please watch the video links below. When I watched, I noted the cardboard food distribution box that I traveled with from community to community speaking on behalf of JDC and JFNA.
The videos and stories will make you smile for your generosity; they will make your heart hurt for those left behind for no one to care for them other than JDC; they will make you proud to support JDC and maybe, when you are at your Seder table, when we remind each other to “Let all who are hungry come eat,” we will recommit ourselves to aid Jews in need.