June 11, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

What Does Federation Do for Me?

I have the best job in the world.

I only started my job about six months ago at Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. What amazes me is that, despite all the work Federation does for this community, it often seems like the best-kept secret in our area.

Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is part of a larger, national Federation system. For over 100 years, Federations around the country have raised money and distributed the funds back into their local communities. Monies go to support food pantries, seniors needing home-delivered kosher meals, at-risk youth in Israel, local Jewish day schools and much more. In addition, Federations have relationships with elected officials and law enforcement to keep the community safe and fight anti-Semitism.

Many people in the Orthodox community ask me: “But what does the Federation do for me?” I would like to explore this question today and in subsequent columns in this space. I’m hoping you will embrace the work of Federation rather than shying away.

As you may imagine, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Federation shifted its priorities and formulated a new model for doing business. In the last 11 months, Federation distributed over $1.3 million for PPE (personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves), kosher food for seniors, temperature scanners for our day schools, virtual classroom training for our day school teachers, restocking food pantries, direct economic relief and so much more. We worked hard and fast to get relief to the members of our community, regardless of affiliation. We were able to do this because this is the work we do every day, 365 days a year. Federation is here for the community—whenever and wherever we are needed.

Orthodox Jews should be at the forefront of supporting Federation and its bigger work in the community. The Torah exhorts us repeatedly to help our fellow Jews. Among the many pesukim that emphasize this mitzvah is the verse in Vayikra 25:35: “If your fellow Jew falls low and comes under your authority, you shall strengthen him, whether a stranger or resident and he shall live with you.” There are various interpretations of this passuk, but many commentators, including Rashi, view it as a command to help any fellow Jew in need.

This month, Federation is focusing its work on food insecurity through our March Mega Food Drive. This effort will benefit northern New Jersey families struggling with food insecurity and help fill community food pantries with essential items. The goal is to collect and distribute 8,000 pounds of food and distribute over 3,000 snack packs. (A snack pack is a small bag of food given to a child who often receives most of their nutrition through school food programs and suffers from food insecurity on the weekends. A snack pack helps them get through the weekend.) Visit our website at jfnnj.org/fighthunger for more information.

And here is another easy way you can help, immediately. When a Federation volunteer calls you this coming Sunday, please answer the call! This Sunday is our Virtual Super Sunday—our largest phone-a-thon of the year.

I look forward to sharing more of the Federation story with you. It’s a story I’m proud to tell, and that you’ll be proud to be a part of.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. Thank you!

By Mindy Berman

 

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