Be the Light

This week we are celebrating Chanukah.  While there are many stories about the meaning of Chanukah, the one concept I always cling to is how a dedicated few made a positive, significant impact on their Jewish community.  Similarly, in Howard County, despite there being over 20,000 Jews, only a relatively small percentage are active donors to the Federation.  It’s these donors who are shining the light in Jewish Howard County. You are the light of our community, helping to make a difference in Jewish lives.  Over the recent months, you’ve seen us highlight the work of our community social worker.  When we decided to change our social service delivery model a year ago, many were skeptical that we would be able to serve more clients and expand our outreach.  I’m delighted to share that in just several months, we’ve been able to make a significant impact on dozens within our community.  
In fact, I’m proud to share some specific examples of how Federation is making an impact in our community.  During this past year, 
450 volunteers participated on Mitzvah Day and Good Deeds Day
200 visits were made to seniors at local homes or nursing homes by our Community and Hospice Chaplains
6,144 books were delivered to over 500 families through PJ Library
$20,000 was allocated to our local preschool and religious schools
250 women attended the Great Challah Bake
Another important way Federation impacts our community is through the work of our newly created Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which is working closely with our Board of Rabbis to ensure that we have a unified Jewish voice to speak out when necessary. Now more than ever we can appreciate the importance of this representation. Within the past month, our community was impacted by three anti-Semitic acts:  the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the disruption during Fiddler on the Roof at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, and the KKK flyers found along Main Street in Ellicott City.  After these incidents, the Federation and JCRC were quick to issue statements of condemnation. They were also instrumental in organizing our community interfaith vigil last month, which drew close to 1,200 participants. We are particularly grateful for the support of our non-Jewish friends and neighbors at the vigil.   
As this calendar year draws to a close and many of you are making your annual gift or fulfilling your pledge from last year, I want to remind you that the Federation, along with most Jewish organizations, follows a fiscal year of July 1 to June 30.  Fundraising during each campaign cycle sets the budget for the following 12 months.  Not sure whether or not you have made a pledge for this year’s campaign?  Call the office, speak to our staff and board members learn more about what we do and share with us what inspires you about supporting our community.  May your light continue to shine and strengthen our Jewish community.
Happy Chanukah!