2015-12-09 / Columns

Eight things to be thankful for during this festival of Chanukah

FEDERATION 411
JENNIFER DUBROW WEISS
Jewish Federation CEO

With Chanukah following on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, I’m reminded of something I read a couple of years ago when Chanukah actually fell on Thanksgiving. It was a list of the eight things the author was thankful for, and this year, I feel that I have much to be grateful for.

Our South Jersey Jewish community. Last month, my husband, Jim, underwent a major and unexpected surgery from which he’s still recovering. The love and support of our Jewish community was overwhelming as we went through this very personal and often very scary experience. The calls, the texts, the visits—all were a reminder of how closeknit our community is. And now that Jim is on the mend, we’re still given daily reminders of how much everyone cares. Thank you.

Food on our table. For too many in our community, the struggle to put food on the table is real. I am thankful that our JFCS Betsy & Peter Fischer Food Pantries exist to help fill the need of food insecurity. I am thankful for the senior lunch program at the Katz JCC that provides not only a hot meal, but also camaraderie to our senior community members.

Having a voice against hatred. We want to believe that we live in a world without prejudice, but that is not the reality. Our JCRC works tirelessly with community and government leaders to give a voice to the oppressed and take a stand against hatred and bigotry. This is our duty, and our privilege to create interfaith dialogue and bring our whole community together.

My job. Every job has its ups and downs, its good days and its bad days. But, having a job— and a job I love—is truly a blessing. And for the people in our community who are struggling with unemployment and underemployment, I am grateful that we can provide a helping hand. For those with special needs whose struggle is even greater, our JFCS Supported Employment program does amazing things to help them find meaningful employment.

An Israel experience for my children. My youngest daughter is traveling to Israel this month, a trip that will help strengthen her Jewish identity and see and touch the history of her ancestors first-hand. I am thankful and grateful that our Jewish Federation can help provide this to other families through the Gift of Israel program. To see a child’s Jewish identity blossom before your very eyes is a truly beautiful thing.

Good health. I am thankful for the good health of all of our lay leaders and volunteers, and the amazing work they accomplish.

The kindness of strangers. And the people we know. Every donation, every minute volunteered, every hour worked is a kindness to a stranger. Your support of the Jewish Federation family of agencies is kindness to those we know as well as those we don’t know personally.

A good book. It may seem too rare at times, but the opportunity to curl up with a good book can heal the soul. I’m thankful for that opportunity, and I’m even more grateful that we can help provide that to underprivileged children through our JCRC BookMates program, which enables the underprivileged to enjoy the one-on-one reading that happens regularly in middle class homes. Reading is a gift that everyone should have access to.

During this holiday of Chanukah, I thank you for providing the light and hope for all in our community. . jweiss@jfedsnj.org

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