My #JewishCleveland: Josh Adler
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“You make time for what’s important in your life and Jewish Cleveland is important to me.”
For me, Jewish Cleveland represents family, home, and community. Growing up, being Jewish was a big part of our family. As I grew older, my connection to Israel became a critical component of my Jewish identity. I first visited Israel with my family 10 years ago, and then returned on a Birthright trip after my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. After my Birthright trip, I joined the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee and became an advocate for a strong relationship between the United States and Israel.
Returning home to Cleveland after college, I was looking for a similar community and knew I could find that within the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. I was looking for people who shared similar values and interests as me and discovered the Young Leadership Division (YLD). I spoke with Jessie Bruder, director of YLD, who helped me find where my interests overlapped with things the Jewish community was doing. The YLD Weinberg Mission to Israel offered an opportunity for me not only to reconnect with the Jewish homeland, but also to engage in a meaningful experience with other young adults in our community.
I enjoyed the time we spent in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but our trip to Beit Shean, Cleveland’s sister city, was particularly special. In Beit Shean, we were treated like family. They know we’re invested in their community and they’re invested in our community. There was an immediate bond. The spirit of being Jewish united us, and I immediately felt a connection with the people there, even though I had never met them.
We also visited Havat HaShomer Army Base, a Federation-supported initiative for at-risk youth. We met with three 20-year-old female IDF commanders who described the challenges of leading and mentoring the young men at their base. The commanders refuse to believe that the individuals should be defined by troubles in their pasts. Instead, they empower the young men to become positive citizens who have an opportunity to achieve their personal and professional goals after their army service.
The Weinberg Mission was the stepping stone I needed to integrate myself back into Jewish Cleveland. It was a big step – a trip to Israel – but it was my gateway into the community. The trip served as a catalyst for me to join LEADS (Leadership Education Development Series) to pursue more leadership roles in the community. It helped inspire me to donate to, and help raise funds for the Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. YLD has been very welcoming and inviting; I’m excited to continue to explore what it has to offer and deepen my involvement in #JewishCleveland.
To learn more about Federation's Young Leadership Division and future YLD Israel travel experiences, contact Jessie Bruder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-593-2869.