What kind of community do we want to be?

As we celebrate the High Holiday season, this time of reflection and renewal allows us to think about the kind of community we want to be and what it might take to have the desired impact.

While we anticipate wonderful celebrations with our young families and their children — PJ Library events, the beginning of a new school year, a return to the flow of fall activities — we are excited about programming and connecting with one another across all ages and stages of life. We at the Jewish Federation have spent a good part of the summer planning for our new program year, welcoming new staff, scheduling events and committee meetings, preparing an IT update, organizing the launch of new projects, meeting with affinity groups and chairs, and we are excited about the possibilities that the year 2022-2023 brings. We are pleased to kick off this year with new leadership: Robby Wax as our president and Bill Markson and Vicki Wax as our Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs cochairs.

Beginning with the launch for our Maimonides Society, chaired by Zach Goldsmith, and Women’s Philanthropy, chaired by Beth Kushnick, we opened our 2023 annual campaign with a major gifts reception at the home of Eileen Ufberg. We especially can’t wait to connect and engage with you to realize the greater potential that exists within our community.

We are also excited to move forward with a special initiative that we have been working on for the past year: the Older Adults Task Force. In partnership with Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Federation has convened the task force to address the programs and services that would help our older adults to “age in place” in the Lehigh Valley. Chaired by Rabbi Allen Juda, the task force has the mission to provide a wide range of services for the Jewish older adults of the Lehigh Valley to help them age in place or live in a residential facility with a sense of security and feeling supported by the community. The vision is based on Torah and Jewish values. The Jewish community will strive to enhance the quality of life and facilitate the independence of every older adult connected to our Jewish community. Each person will be treated with dignity and respect and helped to live life to his/her fullest potential. Members of the task force have identified five areas that we will be researching in order to bring best p
ractices to our community: socialization, transportation, food provision, in-home support services and caregiver support.

The High Holiday season reminds us of the powerful prayer we recited, “Do not cast me off in old age; do not abandon me as my strength fails” (Psalms 71:9). This auspicious time of year always gives me pause to reflect on goals and aspirations, hopes and possibilities — what can be when we work together.

We are gratified to be able to host programs to engage with our youngest to our oldest community members. It is incumbent upon each of us and all of 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 the values that allow us to be a caring community for all ages. We must ensure that proper services are available across the community so that we can all continue to enjoy vibrant Jewish life in the Lehigh Valley. I can hear preschoolers everywhere chirping “sharing is caring.” That is a concise and clear message that should resonate with each of us.

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is Here for Good to ensure that our Jewish community thrives and flourishes 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. We count on one another to continue to help good grow — just as we have in the past, just as we will in the future.