12/17/2015

Responding When Disaster Strikes

Tags: Federation, Video, Campaign

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Hello, my name is Larry Mack. I’ve been a campaigner for a long time. It’s really important to me. Sometimes there are no words for how it makes me feel – to know that I can help.

When the opportunity came up to participate in the Federation’s National Campaigners Mission and connect with volunteer and professional leaders from across the country I knew it would be an education.

When you’re on a campaigners mission, it doesn't matter what city you’re from, because we all have the same goal – helping Jews in our local community, in Israel, and around the world.

Let’s talk for a second about our local Cleveland community. Everybody, I mean everybody, wants to know everything we are doing and how we are doing it.

This is how we do it. Right here in this room, you and me – all of us – we are really doing something special here and I feel proud to be part of that.

Let’s talk about something else we should all feel proud of. Our international partner agencies, Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency, they are working for the Jewish people and everyone else too.

People are facing crisis in this world. That crisis could be a French Jew who experienced anti-Semitism his whole life, taunting remarks, put downs. It’s just enough sometimes for someone to say, “I've had enough.” The young man we met was tired of living like that. So, he made aliyah and was in an absorption center, learning the culture and language, opening a bank account, things that can feel overwhelming. We were there to help.

We were also there to help a woman, who told us life in Ukraine had become unbearable. On a day to day basis, life was simply unbearable. And she had to make a change. She was also in an absorption center that we support, learning about how to live in her homeland.

It is our homeland too. When you’re in Israel, you feel the connection to the people – whether they come from France, Ukraine, or anywhere else – when you are there, you are home. It’s easy.

And if things got so bad, and we had to leave – it’s something I think about from time to time – I think we all do. Israel is a home for us. The people there are just like us, they are the same as me and you.

And you should know that when disaster strikes, the people of Israel – our partner agencies in Israel – respond.

We met with Gideon Hirscher from the JDC who was in charge of disaster services, like the Nepal earthquake for example. And, when something like that happens, many agencies come together and meet in one location – you know there’s the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders and there’s the JDC, and that’s us – they are us.

They all go to a big tent and sit around the table and discuss what they can each do. And Gideon says where he is from and what he plans to do. And everyone around the table says, “Why are you here? There are no Jews in Nepal.”

And he says, “our responsibility is to the entire world and we are here to help the people of Nepal.”

And they get to work to help the people who need it most.

That’s us. We are at work helping the people who need it most. People in crisis, people facing poverty and hunger, people who need a new home, we are their safety net.

I am proud to be part of it. I am proud to be part of the Federation and the Campaign for Jewish Needs.


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