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Rafi Tvizer

"The members of the GMW community – in Israel and NJ – are more than partners and friends; we are family. Federation’s work benefits Jews living in America and Israeli citizens of all backgrounds."

When did you get involved with Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ?

For many decades, I have been a rabbi and an educator. I have lived and worked in Ofakim most of my life.  Since 2002, I have volunteered in this community, which is a partner of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Many people may not realize thatGreater MetroWest” extends beyond New Jersey. My neighbors and I live in Federation’s partner communities in Israel and participate and organize Federation programs. We consider ourselves to be part of Greater MetroWest.

How are you involved?

I’ve spent many years serving on the Ofakim Steering Committee, a group that brings community-building and Jewish identity-building projects to life in the Israeli town (and Federation partner community) of Ofakim. One of the most meaningful parts of this work is meeting Jews of every denomination, both in NJ and other Negev towns. The partnership with Greater MetroWest has enabled me to meet and understand Jews outside of Israel and within Israel: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, right-wing, left-wing…we are all one People.

When you last participated in an event or made a donation, how did that make you feel? What inspires you to give?

I am currently involved in an innovative program called Leaders for Cohesive Society, in partnership with The Ted Arison Family Foundation and Merchavim. I leave our meetings feeling inspired and more knowledgeable. I’ve been able to find common ground in dialogue with Israeli peers from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, an accomplishment that many people want to achieve but it takes dedicated work. My cohort of leaders includes Bedouin and Druze, Haredi, Orthodox and secular, Ethiopian immigrants and sabras (native Israelis). We are influencers in our respective communities, and we hope that we are setting an example for our neighbors.

What motivates you to stay involved?

My peers and I learn together, argue with each other and share joys and sorrows with one another. I continue to stay motivated to be in programs made possible by Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest because I see us bringing change to public and private institutions. One leader at a time, we are strengthening the fabric of Israeli society. We have come to respect and care for each other as true friends. My friend, Munir, is Bedouin. I now have heard his point of view and his stories. I visited his home when his sister was killed. He is welcome in my home any time.

What do you wish other people knew about Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the work we do together?

The members of the GMW community – in Israel and NJ – are more than partners and friends; we are family. Federation’s work benefits Jews living in America and Israeli citizens of all backgrounds.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting involved with or donating to Federation?

Building connections with Jews across the ocean and learning to understand Israelis from extremely diverse communities are among the most meaningful things we can do. Being involved with Federation of Greater MetroWest  has changed my life.