I Challenge You.

September 2014

Well, I did it. Unlike some in my family, I don’t dwell on social media. But one day I came home from work and saw on Facebook that my daughter challenged me to the ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, or are just returning from a trip to Mars, let me explain. In the ALS challenge, someone challenges a few friends to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads and donate money to the ALS Association. If you don’t accept the challenge, you donate a larger amount. If you do accept the challenge, you dump the ice water on your head, make the donation and challenge others. And all of this is captured on video and placed on Facebook and other social media. 

So, my daughter was challenged by someone, dumped ice water on her head and challenged her father to do the same. So I did the same with my wife capturing it all on video. I challenged four friends, dumped the ice water on myself, sent in my donation and posted it all on Facebook.

The fundraising success for the ALS Association is unprecedented. Much has been written already about the efficacy of this type of fundraising, about whether it creates lasting relationships or whether the donors’ relationships with ALS will melt as quickly as the ice.

But I am fascinated by the power of our relationships with each other. The ALS Association is a wonderful organization, but it does not make my top list of charities to which I donate each year. Were I to add a new “disease” recipient for money, I am not certain it would be the ALS Association. I might choose one related to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease or mental illness. Not taking away from ALS, but these other diseases affect so many more people.

Nevertheless, I did not think twice about dumping a bucket of ice cold water over my head and sending a donation to ALS. I did it because my daughter asked me. But I also recognize the novelty in all of this. It became “cool” (no pun intended) to support this charity. 

I can only imagine the impact in this world if people who feel a serious and sincere passion for a cause address that passion by reaching out to their friends to encourage them to join in. I did what I did because my daughter asked me. Imagine how I would have felt if I did so also knowing that she had a particular passion for the cause and dedicated her time and resources to supporting this cause, not just for the 40 seconds of the Facebook video.

So, I challenge you! Not to dump ice water on your head. Not to shave your head. Not for any flash gimmick. But to join me in a cause for which I am passionate. I challenge you to join in the efforts to support the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign or Israel Emergency Campaign. My passion transcends the fact that I work for the Jewish Federation. I wholeheartedly believe in the value of community and I think a lot about what we do and what more we can do.

I lay awake at night wondering how we can send more kids to Jewish summer camps, or grow the enrollment at the Jewish Day School, or create programs in Israel that link Jews and Arabs in creating a productive society. I think about the tenuous situation for Ukrainian Jews, certain South American Jews and European Jews. I feel uncomfortable when I think about Jews in the Lehigh Valley and in Lithuania who go to bed hungry.

This challenge that I throw down is not just about money. I challenge you to experience the passion that I feel, learn more about our cause and utilize the power of relationships to ask others to get involved.

Please join us on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m. as we launch our 2015 Annual Campaign. (More information about the event is on page 3.) The power of our community lies in the power of our relationships. Imagine how much more we can accomplish when I ask you to share in the passion, and then you ask others to do the same. True, the only ice water involved will be to drink. But I can promise you the lingering benefit, good will and great feelings will last longer than the 40-second Facebook video. 

As we begin a new year, may we all be blessed with peace, happiness, fulfillment and health. Shanah Tovah.



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