With Yom Kippur just behind us, each of us recently had the opportunity to spend time thinking about everything we'd done, both right and wrong, during the past year. Personally, this time of reflection allowed me to see how easy it is to get tied up in our own immediate world.
Throughout the year, we understandably can lose sight of what's going on around us, instead concentrating on "me, me, me," and on more trivial things, such as whether or not we can take a vacation this year. We have a tendency to forget that we are part of a broader world — a world that, according to the Federation-commissioned 2009 Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia, still requires significant help to ensure that our Jewish community and its members thrive.
The High Holidays reminded me how incredibly blessed I am, and of my responsibility for making life better for those in the broader world who aren't as fortunate. I still remember attending Federation's Ambassador's Dinner as a young boy with my parents, and hearing Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg, for whom the dinner was named, say, "With good fortune comes responsibility."
We must take this personal responsibility seriously and strive to keep it fresh in our minds all year long. We also must remember that we have a responsibility — and a tradition — as a Jewish people to make the world better for someone else. Our Federation fortunately gives us the chance to uphold our responsibilities as individuals and as Jews.
One of the most compelling reasons for investing in our Jewish world through Federation is that Federation now begins and ends with our donors. Unlike federated-giving organizations of 20 years ago, Federation is now focused on how donors prefer to invest in the community. We see our donors as our philanthropic partners. We offer them a variety of ways to support communal needs, so that they can follow their passions, while at the same time have an impact on the Jewish community's most critical needs.
Federation understands that it is our responsibility as the central fundraiser of Greater Philadelphia's Jewish community to strike a delicate balance between bringing together an array of donors that raise enough funds to address critical needs, while allowing people to feel good about the gifts they are making.
Donors can still support Federation's traditional unrestricted campaign if they'd like to give to the "communal pool," which remains the cornerstone of our fundraising. We know, however, that many sophisticated donors are more comfortable with new models of giving that enable them to support causes and organizations that resonate with them. This is why Federation provides the opportunity for donors to make restricted gifts to Federation's three centers, and pass-through gifts that support specific community priorities and priority organizations.
I hope that Federation's donor-centric fundraising approach is attractive to those looking for a way to uphold their personal and Jewish responsibility to help others. I realize, however, that some people may also need to feel a more personal bond with Federation's work in order to support it.
A good way to connect or reconnect with Federation would be by reading our 2009 Donor Impact Report, which illustrates how Federation and its partners made a very significant impact on our Jewish world this past year — for example, by providing nearly 10,000 local, low-income Jews with the critical support they needed to get through their toughest days.
I also strongly encourage everyone to get out in the community and see the real difference Federation-funded programs make in real people's lives. Have lunch with some of the folks at the Federation-supported Klein JCC to see how much Klein's senior programs mean to them. Travel to Israel (with a Federation mission, of course) to see how Federation-supported organizations are making life easier for people who have made aliyah and are facing so many challenges.
As we enter the home stretch of the secular year, I encourage anyone who has not yet made a gift to the Jewish community through Federation to do so. As you can see by looking at the accompanying chart, Federation has not yet reached its fundraising goals. While I am confident we can meet them, it will take the involvement of the entire Greater Philadelphia Jewish community to accomplish this. Simply put, we need every community member's help to close our 2010 campaign at a level that will enable us to adequately address community priorities.
I can tell you from personal experience that there is no greater joy than seeing someone who needs help being able to receive it. Imagine enabling a child to attend an overnight Jewish camp — a child who wouldn't otherwise have access to this marvelous experience. Imagine providing meals and visits to frail, impoverished seniors who have no family support. What could be better than changing the life of a child or helping an isolated senior to live with comfort and dignity? Anyone can make this happen via a gift to Federation.
Federation offers many, many ways to help you make a difference in the Jewish world here in Greater Philadelphia, in Israel and in the former Soviet Union. If you haven't done so already, I hope you will choose to uphold your personal and sacred responsibility to others by supporting Federation's 2010 annual campaign in whatever way is most meaningful for you.
For a copy of Federation's 2009 Donor Impact Report or to support Federation's 2010 campaign, call 215-832-3484 or visit: www.jewishphilly.org.