In July, I was privileged to join almost 80 other Los Angelenos, many of their spouses and a few of their children, in Jerusalem for the completion of an extraordinary two-year experience.
In Samara, a city of 1.2 million in the Volga region of Russia, 87-year-old Anna sits in a 100-square-foot spacethat is her reality. One of perhaps 8,000 elderly Jews in town, shespends her lonely days confined to her room, blind and her legs tooweak to support her. A sagging bed takes up most of her room, whichis one of five apartments that constitute the communal apartment inwhich she exists. The other residents share one toilet and a dirtykitchen.
There are more than 30,000 Jewish teen-agers in Los Angeles -- how do we engage them?
As we approach the new millennium, we often discuss the unity of the Jewish people, seeking those aspects of Jewish life that will hold our diverse communal elements together after the year 2000. Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchek has referred to our Jewish covenant as including our shared history, shared suffering, shared responsibility and shared action.
In a Jewish community the size and scope of ours, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the small acts of kindness that define our concern for justice and quality of life.
As I have traveled the communal philanthropic "circuit" this year, I have been moved to ponder who gets the most out of our enterprise: those who are receiving communal service or those who are volunteering their time and other resources to assure that those in need will benefit?