Sister Mary Scullion told a capacity crowd of 139 participants at the 7th annual Women's Seder sponsored by JEVS Human Services that the Passover story is universal and relevant to contemporary audiences.
Scullion, co-founder of Project H.O.M.E., a non-profit organization that serves chronically homeless men and women in Philadelphia, emphasized that the exodus is ongoing for thousands of men and women who are "enslaved by poverty, homelessness, addiction and other societal ills."
She exhorted the women to take pride in a Jewish tradition that emphasizes compassion, mercy and tzedakah. Scullion opined that, as women of faith, seder participants could personally relate to her organization's motto — "none of us are home, until all of us are home."
Several of the JEVS Human Services clients who were invited to participate in the March 20 seder held in the board room of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, had turned to the agency for assistance in helping them to pass over from unemployment to self-sufficiency.
Caren Lippe worked closely with Maxine Katz, the coordinator of Working for Success, a program of JEVS Career Strategies, in 2009 when she was laid off from her job as a software trainer. She praised Katz and her team who evaluated her resume, prepared her for the interview process and "gave me the confidence to transfer my skills to a new career." Lippe said that she is enjoying the challenges of her new job in the health care industry.
Hannah Klapholtz also has made a positive connection with the staff of JEVS Human Services. "I am working with Samara Fritzsche of the Helping Hands program to find meaningful employment," she said. Klapholtz is indebted to the agency for the assistance they have provided to her two children, Hilary and Max. Both have participated in the JEVS Career Strategies Tuttleman/Lasko Program.
The program assists Jewish high school students with the college admissions process. In addition, during the summer prior to their senior year, they are paid a stipend to work at local Jewish agencies while receiving SAT test tutoring. Staff members "have been wonderful with both my kids, giving them guidance and direction," she said, crediting the program with her daughter's success at Temple University, where she is a sophomore studying music education, and with the sizable jump in her son's SAT scores. "Thanks to JEVS, my son has been accepted to eight of the nine colleges he has applied to," Klapholtz kvelled.
Nancy Astor Fox, who served as chair of the 2012 Seder Committee, described JEVS Human Services as "a precious gem." She expressed pride in being part of an organization that for 70 years "has been making hope happen for people in our community."