Still Here for Good

From Shalom Baby, early childhood Jewish education and PJ Library to teen programming and VISIT Israel, to young leadership engagement, to Jewish community events including Women’s Philanthropy and Maimonides Society, to Life and Legacy, and to our older adults, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley welcomes and supports a cross-generational approach to Jewish communal life. The breadth and scope of involvement of individuals of all ages only serves to enrich and enhance the vitality of our community.

Shalom Baby, chaired by Amy Sams, always does a beautiful job of welcoming our youngest (newest) community members. This year, the wonderful gift bags for Shalom Baby have gotten an upgrade with new merchandise and goodies. PJ library celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, and we are delighted that under the leadership of Abby Trachtman, we continue to offer interesting and engaging PJ programs throughout the community. We are also pleased to be launching a new teen initiative called Student to Student, a signature program of Be the Narrative. Student to Student is a proven, classroom-based experiential program that brings Jewish and non-Jewish high school students together to learn about Judaism through personal storytelling. Under Aaron Gorodzinsky and our Community Relations Council, and led by Naomi Schachter and her son Isaac Dahan, this is an important program in our ongoing commitment to fighting antisemitism.

Our Women’s Philanthropy, led by Laurie Wax, continues to present dynamic and informative events and helps to build our annual campaign, as does our Maimonides Society, chaired by Zach Goldsmith, who has made it a priority to increase participation of women’s healthcare professionals. Women’s Philanthropy and the Maimonides Society will be cohosting a Chanukah event on December 3. Please watch for details.

Our young leadership group is being revitalized under the guidance of Lee Kestecher Solomon with Rachel Levin, Lyell Scherline, Aviva Marlin and Chelsea Busch, and events are being planned to engage and involve young families in the work of our Jewish Federation. In addition to the social, educational programming, we are especially excited to offer a family trip to Israel, June 6-14, 2024. A travel experience you won’t want to miss!

This program year, we look forward to shared, community-wide celebrations and to welcoming individuals of all ages. Our community-wide Sukkot dinner will take place on October 4 at the Jewish Day School, and our community Chanukah event will take place at Temple Beth El. Please watch for additional information about community-wide celebrations as we come together to share in these special activities.

On Thursday evening, November 30, the Jewish Federation will be hosting an enjoyable event for all ages. Our Main Event will feature Joel Chasnoff. Chasnoff is an American-born standup comedian and writer who made aliyah in his 20s. He mixes standup comedy with favorite stories from his new book, “Israel 201,” and explains how his relationship with Israel deepened in unexpected ways while writing it. Joel bases his humor on real experiences and a deep love for Judaism and Israel. We can’t wait to see you at this entertaining and fun event!

Our Older Adult Task Force, convened by the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service and spearheaded by Rabbi Allen Juda, continues to explore programs and services for our older adults living in the Lehigh Valley. The purpose of this important task force has been to assess the needs of our older adults so we are better positioned to offer the desired and needed services. Identifying the following areas was a first step in the process, and those areas are: home maintenance, transportation, home healthcare, meals and socialization. As you may know, we are also in the process of surveying an anonymous, random sample of our older adults to help further inform our decision-making as we move forward.

I mention these initiatives for our youngest and our oldest community members because we are truly blessed to be able to provide programs to meet the needs of these populations. These groups represent both the future of our community and the roots of our community. It is incumbent upon us to welcome and engage our young community members in order for us to be vibrant and relevant into the future. However, we must not lose sight of those “who planted for us,” and as our community ages, we must ensure the proper services for our older adults in order for them to continue to enjoy life with dignity in the Lehigh Valley.

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is Here for Good to ensure that our Jewish community thrives from dor l’dor. Good doesn’t just happen on its own. It comes from our collective dedication, to the promise of a flourishing Jewish future. It is also our commitment to cross-generational programming so that we can learn from one another, count on one another and continue to help good grow. Just as we have in the past. Just as we will in the future.