A Myriad of Paths to Involvement

When you grow up in a very small Jewish community like the one in Rhode Island where I grew up, you don't have the luxury of choosing which Jewish activities to be involved in - if you are not supportive of all of them, they will not exist. So my parents and grandparents were involved in the Rhode Island federation as well as in their synagogues. In particular, my mother, my aunt, and my grandmothers supported and led not only Hadassah, but the (yes, it was a very different time) Ladies Auxiliary of Touro Synagogue and the Temple Shalom Sisterhood. All of these organizations, as well as Young Judaea and BBYO for the kids, formed the strong supportive network that created Jewish life on Aquidneck Island. Without the individual and collective efforts that kept these organizations going, I'm not sure my parents could have created the three committed Jews that they have sent into the wider world.

Here in MetroWest, we are blessed with a surfeit of Jewish institutions with which we can involve ourselves. And taken together, they also weave the same kind of supportive network that I had growing up in Newport. Because we are a larger community, however, it sometimes seems to me that despite all of the opportunities to enrich our Jewish lives and to support Jewish institutions that make us stronger, we all too often think the next person is going to do it, so we don't have to. This kind of thinking not only robs our synagogues, federation, and agencies of great people to help in wonderful community work, it robs those who think this way of tremendous opportunities to learn and grow.

In the month of October alone, the women of MetroWest have had or are about to have a myriad of paths to involvement. Last week, I attended the Rachel Coalition's Woman to Woman lunch, which featured Leslie Morgan Steiner, a survivor of domestic violence, whose new book, Crazy Love, demonstrates that this horror shows no immunity when it comes to wealth, class, or level of education. How sad - and yet I also felt so proud that the Rachel Coalition, founded by the leaders of Women's Philanthropy, NCJW, Hadassah, and JWI, is one of the leading agencies in New Jersey combating this terrible crime. This week, join me at the annual Hadassah - Women's Philanthropy Education Day on October 14, starting at 10 a.m. at the Aidekman Campus in Whippany. It's a terrific program, with something for everyone - and if this reaches you too late for this year, please join us next year. And of course, there is The Next Step: One Community. One Day. One Gift. Please register at www.ujcnj.org/thenextstep and be a part of a day that will touch the lives of so many. (And get the scoop on The New York Times Sunday Book Review - they will be running an article on our speaker Kati Marton's new book, Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America, two days after she kicks off her book tour with Women's Philanthropy!)

And finally, Sukkah Envy Update: Last week, I visited the Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest's facility in East Orange as part of a mini-mission for our Young Women's B'Yachad campaign. In addition to learning about all of the wonderful work that JVS does, both in the general community and in the Jewish community, I solved my sukkah problem. JVS sponsors Home Maintenance Solutions - something I had mistakenly assumed was for older people who have difficulty doing home repairs and chores. In fact, they will handle many kinds of home repair at below market rates, and most important to me, will put up and take down your sukkah! For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (973) 674-2415, ext 296, or e-mail AtHomeServices@jvsnj.org. And many thanks to Caren Ford and Eileen Weiss at JVS for a wonderful morning.

Come find your place in our wonderful community - we need you!

Leslie

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