Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
This week, my family and I are blessed to be celebrating our second anniversary in Arizona and my time with Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, first as chief development officer and now as executive director. Several times a week over those years, I have had the great joy of stopping to chat with Janet Arnold as I enter the Valley of the Sun JCC lobby. As senior concierge and Creative Aging coordinator for Jewish Family and Children’s Service, Janet spends several days a week stationed in the lobby where she greets our community’s senior citizens with a smile and a kind word. She works to connect our “chronologically advantaged” with services that improve the quality of their lives and helps them maintain their independence and Jewish identity.
The amount of people with whom Janet comes in contact and the number of lives she impacts is really something to pause and consider.
Janet shared with me that a couple of weeks ago, a woman stopped by to say her husband needed special binocular-type glasses for macular degeneration. The woman mentioned how expensive the glasses were going to be and how she was concerned about being able to pay for them while meeting their everyday expenses on a fixed income. Janet said she was able to connect the woman with a variety of services available to people with visual impairment as well as Federation community partner Jewish Free Loan. The woman had never heard of Jewish Free Loan. Janet followed up and found that the couple was able to secure a loan and receive other vital services. They were so grateful to Janet. Such a small thing – such a large impact.
When I reflect on this week’s Torah portion, which includes among its themes Sefira (counting), also meaning illumination, I think of the light that Janet is providing to the community and the light that our partners, including JFCS and Jewish Free Loan, provide through their work. I am grateful that I am blessed to lead this Federation that recognizes the importance of this work and provides funds for Janet’s concierge position and the work of JFCS and our other strategic partners. Together we are stronger. Together we are community, and together we serve as “a light unto nations.”