Signs of Spring
The calendar reads May 1st, which suggests that spring has not only arrived but is in full bloom. Even though the scene out my window has not corroborated that fact, since the start of this season, there have been just enough glimpses of spring to convince me that the calendar is not playing tricks. Additionally, there have been a few other reminders which give me some hope.
Spring is the time of year when kids dream of summer vacation and start preparing for camp. Our household is experiencing this in a new way because our son is preparing for Jewish overnight camp for the first time. And as we go through the checklist of forms we need to submit and provisions we need to procure, my thoughts have been turning to those families who need some help to ensure that their children have access to this important and life-changing resource. Long before last fall’s Pew report, studies confirmed the central importance Jewish camp experiences provide for our children and the life-long impact of memories made and lessons learned at camp. Our Federation recognizes the vital role Jewish camping plays and is so proud to support many partner agencies which work diligently year-round to provide our children with this life-changing enrichment. Currently on the local scene, by supporting Federation, you support Jewish Family Service to provide much needed scholarships to campers, the JCC and its exceptional O-la-mi program, and Camp Laurelwood, the only Jewish overnight camp in Connecticut.
Of equal importance are the incredible opportunities Federation helps to provide for Jews in Israel and around the World. When I was last in Israel, I met a twenty year-old girl from Tajikistan named Ina. She did not know she was Jewish until she was twelve years old and did not have a single Jewish experience or memory until the Jewish Agency for Israel, thanks to support from Federations like ours, sent her to Jewish summer camp. Last year, Ina made aliyah and plans on attending university in Israel to study pharmacology after she completes her national service.
We, at Federation, take great pride in stories like Ina’s and stories about local children whose lives are changed at camp and will strive for new ways to help our partners to help more campers. I look forward to reporting on that in the future.
Drum roll please: In the vernal spirit of renewal, I am pleased to announce that our brand new website will be launched later today, still at www.ujf.org! Federation has been working very hard to provide better information about our work, to communicate more effectively with you and to give you easier access to information about our Jewish community and its calendar. I hope you will take a look and share your thoughts.