Taking 'The Next Step'

Okay, so I've been at this blogging thing for something like two months, and I have certainly told you a lot about where I come from and what has motivated me. One thing I think is clear is that one of the most important values that I hold is being a part of a community. No surprise, then, that one of the centerpiece events this fall is going to be a community-wide campaign event for the women of MetroWest.

We're calling it "The Next Step" and the tagline is "One Community. One Day. One Gift." We're asking for the women of our community to come together – to take the "next step" – in support of the Jewish community here, around the world and in Israel, on Friday morning, October 23, 2009, to make the one gift that changes lives and saves lives. Whether you are a long-time supporter or this will be your first step into Women's Philanthropy, this special morning is for you.

The invitations are going out next week, via email (we are trying to be as "green" as possible) with all of the details, but I wanted to give you some of the background and the inspiration behind the scenes.

Our wonderful co-chairs, Dana Meiselman Galloway and Dana Lichtenberg, are two dynamic women who are both involved in creating community and finding opportunities for hands-on volunteering. In fact, there are two events in the MetroWest community where women can come together to volunteer and to see where our dollars go. First, this Sunday, September 13, is the Newark Cemetery Visiting Day, sponsored by the Community Relations Council from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CRC is a vital institution funded by your dollars that is our connection to the issues facing the Jewish world. Volunteers are needed to help record genealogical information. This is part of the mitzvah of caring for those who are beyond repaying the mitzvah and yet is still meaningful to future generations. If you are interested, contact Alice Gould at (973) 575-8875 or at ARGould21@aol.com – and let us know as well, because I will be there, looking for you. Send me an email at lrosenthal@ujcnj.org so I know you are coming! (Personal history note – I helped restore a historic cemetery in Newport when I was in high school – we did everything from using scythes and weedwackers to get to where we could see the headstones to plotting and recording all of the stones.)

The second opportunity is helping to bag food at the Bobrow Kosher Food Pantry at Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange on Wednesday night, October 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. This spring, the food pantry received an $18,000 grant through UJC MetroWest from the federal stimulus package. This is a great chance to bring your school-age kids for a hands-on experience. (Another personal history note – I am a past president of Oheb Shalom and I can tell you that the Bobrow Kosher Food Pantry is an all-consuming, all-volunteer effort by members of the congregation. We are very proud of this work – making a permanent home for the food pantry was a major focus of our renovations a few years ago.) Again, if you are interested, please email me at lrosenthal@ujcnj.org so we can be prepared to greet you.

As for The Next Step itself, we will gather at Temple B'nai Shalom on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange at 9:15 on October 23. We are at B'nai Shalom for the warmth of gathering at an area synagogue and because B'nai Shalom is host to the Wellness, Arts and Education (WAE) Center, a very special place for adults with developmental disabilities. Sponsored by Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled, a federation beneficiary, the WAE Center is a program of learning, creative arts, spiritual growth, and the sharing of ideas in an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. Courses include fine arts, painting, multi-media arts, yoga, pilates, and creative writing. We will meet the participants, see their artwork, and have an opportunity to purchase it. Our speaker is Kati Marton, a world-renowned journalist and human rights activist with a fascinating story to tell. And you will have the opportunity to make your pledge to the 2010 Annual Campaign. We are asking each of you to make a pledge of at least $365 dollars – a dollar a day for the future of the Jewish people.

In a time where we are all concerned about the future and what it will hold for us as individuals and as families, we are also compelled to think about those who are less fortunate, who cannot care for themselves. We are compelled by the Jewish value of b'tzellem elohim, of seeing every human being as made in the image of G-d. We are compelled by the Jewish value of klal yisroel, the concept that we are one community, responsible for one another. And we are compelled by the simple concept of mitzvot, of good deeds. We are taught that one mitzvah will lead to another – come take The Next Step with Women's Philanthropy!

Wishing you all a wonderful week as we head into the new school year, the new programmatic year, and the New Year.

Leslie

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