by Rachel Hoffer
For the first half of my life, I was unaware that I was a recipient of Federation dollars. I spent every day after school at the JCC tennis center or gym and many weekends at its pool. Every sport in which I was involved was through the JCC. I attended Hebrew High, Camp Ramah and went to Israel the summer after my junior year in high school. More recently, as a Start-Me-Up fellow, I developed a leadership adventure program for teens. In my mind none of these activities had anything to do with Federation. I was wrong. The JCC, BJE, scholarships to both camp and Israel, Start- Me-Up fellow are all a part of the Federation. In addition to my strong family involvement and amazing parental role models, these experiences were integral in shaping who I am today.
As a parent, I believe strongly in helping my children to understand the importance of tzedakah and giving to those less fortunate with both their time and money. I want my family to call Israel their second home. As I think about how I grew up and my goals for my family, I realized that many of them are fulfilled by the Federation.
I love that Federation helped move Pardes to the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, bringing 300 students (and their parents) onto the campus every day. I love that Federation creates a strong presence with the Israel Center, bringing Israel’s unique culture to our community and strengthening our younger generation’s Jewish identity through education and personal connection to Israel. I love that Federation is a hub of Jewish engagement and giving, supporting more than 20 agencies in the Valley, a number of agencies in Israel and in over 70 other countries throughout the world.
In October, my husband Jonathan and I went on our first mission to Israel. Those seven days were life-changing. We saw Federation’s impact firsthand. From being touched by the amazing families at the Ethiopian Absorption Center who were learning how to live in their new home, to being mesmerized by a young woman providing pre-military education to teenage girls in the Israeli periphery—the Federation matters.
Jonathan and I realized that while we have never personally designated funds to these groups, they are supported by Federation dollars and they are such worthy causes— causes we may not have known about, but are so important. The Federation is like a mutual fund, using collective dollars to make the greatest impact. And while we cannot vet every Jewish agency in the world, I know that when we give to the Federation, our gift is improving the quality of life of Jews in need in our community, in Israel and throughout the world.
Together, through the Federation, we can make a difference in this community and Jewish communities around the world.
I invite you to come find your seat at the table.