Community Matters

Summer vacations conjure images of sun and surf, relaxing with friends and family while taking time to relax and recharge.  During July, my family escaped the heat and humidity of the east coast to the fabulous mountain desert climate and scenery of Park City, UT and Jackson Hole, WY, where we enjoyed everything those locales had to offer – including a close-up elk sighting in Yellowstone.  Our wonderful vacation was mildly inconvenienced by a large and dramatic wildfire in Wyoming.  We watched heroic rescue efforts, including helicopters carrying large buckets of water from the Snake River to dump on the burning trees, and spoke with people who were calmly planning evacuations from their homes because the flames were visible in their backyard.  But through it all, attention to personal safety and a strong sense of the community helping each other was evident.

Our local community was rocked by the terrible tragedy of the Ellicott City flood on July 30.  As I watched the horrifying news and video reports, I reflected on the powerful and destructive force of natural disasters.  When faced with life and death situations, it’s easy to identify key priorities. It made me very proud when our Federation staff immediately reached out to see what we could do to help. Your Federation put out a call to action to help our neighbors begin to recover from this disaster, raising $5,000 in just three weeks. This incredible response reinforced the saying, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh”… all Jews are responsible for one another.  I am honored to help lead an organization that cares so deeply about our community.

While I was busy relaxing, the Federation staff has been working hard to continue all the wonderful programs and services that Federation delivers. They haven’t missed a beat since our Executive Director’s departure, and the board is continuing to work through options for the future organizational structure.  We are developing our 2017 Annual Campaign strategy to ensure that we help you, our donors, better understand the relationship between “pledge” and “payment” and how our ability to deliver service locally and abroad is dependent on your support. We also welcomed new board member Andy Nussbaum and our Board of Rabbis representative, Rabbi Seth Bernstein from Bet Aviv, to our Board of Directors.  We have many exciting programs scheduled for September – too many to list. To see the entire community calendar for Howard County Jewish activities, click here.

One final note – we have heard from many of you expressing concern about the information display in the East Columbia library branch sponsored by the Committee for Palestinian Rights.  The Community Relations Council, along with representation from the Howard County Board of Rabbis and the Federation has shared your concerns with the library.  This event is an important reminder to remain watchful and aware of how and where information is shared within our community.

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and hope to see you at a Federation event soon!


Beth Millstein



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