by Dena Schulman-Green
“Why do I give to the Jewish Federation?” The simple answer to this question is, “To support Klal Yisrael”, or the Jewish community, but as with many questions, the answer is multifaceted. I give to support the critical services and programs provided by Jewish organizations in Greater New Haven, in our sister city of Afula, Israel, and elsewhere in the world, such as the Ukraine. I give because it is gratifying to know that my gift, while a single check to the Federation, flows to many people and places whose mission I believe in. I give because from the time I was little, I was taught the value of tzedakah, or charity, of being generous with time and treasure.
I know why I give, but one of my favorite aspects of working on the campaign is learning why others give. Listening to others talk about what motivates them produces a myriad of additional reasons that inspire me. I am reminded of the many times my children have asked questions that intrigued them, like “Where does G-d live?” and “Do you REALLY have eyes on the back of your head?” In proper Jewish form, my response has always been to ask another question: “Where do YOU think G-d lives?” Asking them the question gives me a sense of what they understand, and their answers often delight and surprise me with their creativity and insight.
So while I enjoy responding to the question of why I give, as campaign chair, I am looking forward to this new year and the many conversations where I get to ask, “Why do YOU give to Federation?” These conversations give me a great sense of what the Jewish Federation is doing well. Just as important are the conversations where I ask, “Why DON’T you give to Federation?” because these conversations give me a sense of what our community needs to be doing or doing better. This holiday season, let us all reflect on why we give, not just to feel good about getting back to the basics of supporting Klal Yisrael, but also to find renewed motivation and new reasons for why we give to our Jewish Federation. There are many. What are yours?