My friend's tale is one among tens of thousands; many are far more devastating, as families are dealing with the deaths of loved ones and the loss of nearly everything they own. As New Orleans is dredged, the true scope of the devastation will be understood. Already, the evacuees realize that a return to their former lives in that wonderful city may take months or years, and that some things may never be recovered. Into that disheartening reality, the Jews of Los Angeles and elsewhere have stepped in willingly and generously to help as they can, exactly as their religion says they should. And all the fractiousness, all the confusing, competing layers of the various Jewish organizations have seemingly melted away, coordinating the relief aid very much as they were designed to do.
I was in a compound in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sitting with 500 men, women and children, all praying in Hebrew during Shabbat. I was there as part of a small group of lay and professional leaders from the United States to try to understand a complex and confusing series of issues surrounding the Falash Mura, a group of more than 20,000 Ethiopians who claim Judaism as their faith and are eagerly awaiting aliyah.
The differences between the two services could not have been more striking. In Jerusalem, we were all well-dressed and appeared healthy. In Addis Ababa, the group was dressed in threadbare, hand-me-down clothes. Not surprisingly, many looked unhealthy.
The Federation is committed to a strong and vibrant JCRC.
Engaging residents of our community to impact the "urban agenda" is the objective. But the agenda of the organized Jewish community must be redefined in a thoughtful, targeted and strategic way to successfully mobilize human resources beyond the core of active, identified Jews.
The essence of the debate is over the future nature of the national Jewish collectivity, the priorities of that collectivity and, most challenging, the binding impact of the decisions made by the new national organization on local communities -- our community.
I thought the readers of The Jewish Journal wouldbe interested in one of the many things The Jewish Federation does tobuild bridges between Israel and our community.
In 1948, the world agreed to the creation of the State of Israel in a moment of stricken conscience over its outrageous failure to stop or even attempt to mitigate the effects of the Holocaust.