05/12/2016

Meet Yana: Capacity Building Participant

Tags: Federation, Young Adults, Overseas, Leadership

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Yana (first from the left) with the participants of 2016 Capacity Building Project as they tour Cleveland during their visit.

Yana is a young Jewish professional in her twenties living in St. Petersburg, Cleveland’s sister city in Russia. Passionate about helping her community, Yana wanted to do something about the poverty affecting the Jews in her city, but she could hardly raise any funds.

When she heard about Jewish Federation of Cleveland's Capacity Building Project, a year-long program with a one-week internship in Cleveland, she jumped on the opportunity.

Organized in partnership with the Russian Jewish Congress, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, this Federation initiative trains Jewish community professionals on how to collaborate, fundraise, and plan for a sustainable Jewish future.

For many years now, the Federation has been helping the St. Petersburg community become more self-sufficient and create the kind of change they want to see in their community. Through a range of initiatives and programming support, the Federation has helped this Jewish community survive and thrive into the future.

When Yana decided to take part in the Capacity Building Project, she knew this would be a life-changing opportunity, but she didn’t realize how many lives she was about to change.

She had never been to Cleveland before. The day she stepped foot in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Building of the Federation, she felt energized and experienced the change she wanted to bring in her own community.

The Capacity Building Project participants meet with Jewish Cleveland lay leaders and volunteers as they learn new skills on how to build a self-sustaining Jewish community in St. Petersburg.

The Federation staff and volunteer leadership rallied behind her as she absorbed the essence of Jewish community life in Cleveland. They supported her as she learned new lessons about fundraising and discussed her ideas on how to build a self-sustaining Jewish community in St. Petersburg.

Ever since, Yana has joined hands with another participant from the Capacity Building Project to raise over 4 million rubles from around the world through an online donation project they pioneered. Additionally, their website has engaged hundreds of Russian students and young adults who are now giving back to their community.

“My trip to Cleveland inspired me,” she said. “It showed me that we’re one community of worldwide Jews.”

Yana’s passion for the program has grown as has her interest in engaging more participants. Today, she coordinates the Capacity Building Project and is helping create a network of volunteers and leaders in St. Petersburg. Together, they are working to renew Jewish life and build Jewish identity in our sister city.

Stories like Yana’s are made possible because of your support. Thank you.

To learn more about the Overseas Connections Committee, visit us online or contact Ilanit Gerblich Kalir at ikalir@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2815.


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