My name is Jeff, and though I'm the co-chair designate of Federations' National Young Leadership, I didn’t grow up in a Federation family. I didn’t go to synagogue much or attend Jewish summer camp, and I never joined a Jewish youth group. However, as the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and a first-generation American Jew, I always had a curiosity and a comfort with all things Jewish – the language, the culture and the deep history.
I spent my college years traveling to Israel, thanks to a partnership with Hillel and a generous stipend from my Federation. You can say I got hooked. It opened my eyes to the concept of Jewish Peoplehood, and how special it is to be part of a community that at its core seeks to repair the world and do good for humanity. I took every opportunity to learn more about Jewish text and history both locally and in Israel.
As a young professional, I sought a community to continue my involvement in Jewish life. Then the phone call came. A new young professional at my Federation asked if I would like to get involved in young leadership. The rest is history.
Federation gave me a community. Inspired me with incredible music. Connected me with thought-provoking Jewish learning experiences. And exposed me to vulnerable Jewish populations at home, in Israel and around the world. It took me on missions, including one to Ethiopia and Israel where I witnessed how my gift to Federation is changing the lives of so many.
People talk about the challenges of engaging young Jews, but it’s really not so hard. I wasn’t so involved. Now my kids attend Jewish schools. My family is very involved in our community, and we travel to Israel. We blast Jewish music in the car. And every day I think about how blessed I am that Federation equipped me with the knowledge and the tools to inspire others to learn, to give, and to live Jewishly – whatever that means to them.
Please, make the call to ask someone to get involved. It works.