Shabbat Shalom: Reflections on Berlin and Budapest
Last week Jamie Pious, Alliance Vice Chair of Philanthropy, and I had the honor of joining 130 colleagues from around the United States and Canada on a tour of programming in Berlin and Budapest sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America. It is often difficult to articulate the impact of our overseas programming here in Rhode Island. Seventy years after Israel’s independence and 73 years after World War II, I often get questions about why we continue to provide support overseas, when there is such need here at home. While the questions are valid, I now have a better understanding of the impact of our investments in other parts of the world. Investments that bind us to our Jewish brothers and sisters across the globe.
In Berlin we spoke with young people who are creating new Jewish communities throughout Germany with the help of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in Germany and throughout Europe, we walked in solidarity with young Jews and Muslims, wearing kippot
to demonstrate that Jews should be able to walk freely throughout the country. Coverage of the walk can be found here.
In Budapest we experienced the spectrum of the impact of our dollars. I had the honor of visiting Ozkar, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor in his home. Ozkar requires a home health aid 12 hours per day, something the social safety net in Hungary does not cover. Our funding helps to ensure that Ozkar, and Holocaust survivors like him, have the support he needs to live with dignity. We also had the opportunity to visit the Budapest JCC. We walked in to see a group of children engaged in story time with a JCC staff person. If not for the fact that they were speaking Hungarian, it is a scene that could have easily happened at the Dwares JCC. Finally, we had the opportunity to visit Camp Szarvas, a summer camp where children from throughout the world come together as Jews. Although they all speak different languages, they are able to communicate and engage with each other. Seeing it in action, I know how committed the next generation is to living Jewish lives regardless of the country they come from. I hope to share more stories from the trip with you soon.
In closing, and as I approach my one-year anniversary at the Alliance, I want to thank you for creating such a welcoming environment for my family and me. I’m excited to continue strengthening and building our community together in the coming year.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat.
President & CEO
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island | 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence RI 02906 | 401.421.4111