I have been a Jewish communal professional for more than 30 years, most recently from Sarasota, Florida. I remember the day I came home and told my wife and children that we were moving to Arizona, where I would be the chief development officer of Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. Three and a half years later, I am the CEO of the organization, and boy, am I so glad we made the move.
I am proud of our Federation and how this community steps up to help Jews in need and to build vibrant Jewish communities here, in Israel and around the world. Together, we make an impact by sharing our bounty with Jews suffering in Ukraine and other areas of the former Soviet Union who are doing without even the most basic of necessities. We help young Ethiopian Jews in Israel survive and thrive in their new homeland, giving them the tools they need to not only provide for themselves, but also for their families.
Our Federation, through a collective network of 147 partners across North America, is poised to help Jews in times of crisis such as the flooding in Houston and fire kites in Israel. We are able to respond quickly to help provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, medicine and counseling.
At home, we help fund Jewish education in our community and work to engage young Jewish adults in ways they find meaningful. Doing so ensures our Jewish future for generations to come. Indeed, we are proud to have seven young people from our community who serve on the Jewish Federations of North America Young Leadership Cabinet.
On the other end of the spectrum, we work to enrich the lives of our community’s senior adults who desire social interaction that reflects their Jewish dignity and who need services to maintain their independence, such as our senior rides program. I am pleased that our generous donors have provided $313,000 for our new Age Advantaged initiative that examines how we can do more and better for our valued senior population.
All these efforts work toward building a vibrant Jewish community with multiple “tent flaps” allowing people to enter where they feel comfortable and where they feel welcome. There are more than 100,000 Jewish people in the Valley. Most are unaffiliated to any Jewish organizations or congregations. Federation is committed to meeting people where they are and engaging them in ways they find meaningful.
One way Federation is doing this is by bringing “Violins of Hope” to our community in 2019. Through a series of educational programs, exhibitions and concerts, Jews and non-Jews will gain a greater understanding of the Holocaust and learn that a diverse community is a rich community, where all are valued and treated as equals.
As 2018 draws to a close, we are reminded how important it is to draw together — for when we do, we are stronger. In Federation, we have a voice. We can guard against tragedies such as the one that took place in Pittsburgh. We can build a stronger community for all of us locally and globally.
For those who have contributed to our 2018 campaign, thank you so very much. For those of you who have not yet done so, I ask you to please do so now and to embrace our ancient tradition of Kol Yisrael Aravim zeh la ze — each and every Jew is responsible for one another. JN
Marty Haberer is CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. For more on Federation’s annual campaign, visit jewishphoenix.org.