Fostering Jewish Identity for a Bright Tomorrow

Photo: Vadim Daniel

By: Eva Ludvig
Chair, Community Planning and Allocations

One of the most important roles of Federation CJA, as the driving force in our Jewish community, is to ensure that this community has a future – a dynamic and engaging future, a strong and vibrant future for every member of our community. If we don’t foster Jewish identity, if we don’t teach our children about Jewish values, if we don’t excite and engage our young adults in the value of community today, what kind of future can we expect for our community for tomorrow?

If we’re committed to ensuring a bright and dynamic future for this community, we will see it in the quality of the leadership we bring forward. That is why we, as a community, focus so much on fostering Jewish identity – to ensure that youth understand who they are, understand our shared values and develop strong connections to community and to our heritage so that they may become proud and active members of society and the kind of leaders that are able to take us forward.

Young people today have so many ways to access information, to understand and to explore their own interests. The challenge is how do we, as a community, provide a Jewish menu for young people that’s really compelling so that as they become adults and begin to raise their own families that they make Jewish choices because they have come to appreciate the vitality of the Jewish experience?

Supporting our Jewish day schools and informal Jewish identity programs (like Birthright Israel and Jewish camping) is vital; it’s the bedrock. We marry formal Jewish education with the experiential to create a more well-rounded Jewish experience for people. It has been proven that learning about heritage and traditions is not exclusive to the classroom. It’s something to live and do and experience first-hand; that is how the connections are made on a deeper level and in a way that will leave a lasting impact.

For example, visiting Israel and engaging with other Jewish young people who are on the same journey; having a meaningful Jewish camping experience over the summer; joining hundreds of your peers at an event discussing Judaism today. This is where the excitement of being Jewish comes into play and how people discover what being part of a community is all about. These are the types of experiences that personalize Judaism for our youth; that enthuse them to become involved and to make an impact. These are the types of experiences that transform our youth into our future leaders.

Through the generosity of the community, Federation CJA can make this possible by investing in young people and making Jewish life accessible. Were it not for this investment, we wouldn’t have the highest percentage rates of youth enrolled in Jewish day school or going on Israel experiences. We wouldn’t have as many children benefiting from summers at Jewish camp. Were it not for our donors who help us provide the necessary resources, we wouldn’t be able to reach and engage as many children, young adults and families in our strong and vibrant Jewish community.

That is really the gift of Federation CJA – it has been historically, it is today and for the future of our community, it must continue to be going forward.

This year, Federation CJA allocated $8.5 million for Jewish identity.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

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