Two Great Cleveland Traditions Are Happening This Weekend
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It was 1997. I was in graduate school and meeting a friend for dinner before heading to UJA-Federation of New York to make calls on Super Sunday. I caught a cab and gave the driver the restaurant’s address – around the corner from where I’d be making the calls. As I leaned back to relax during the ride, the cab driver said, “you know where you are going is near that UJA-Federation building.” He then asked, “do you know those Federation people?” At this point, I’m looking around for a hidden camera – sure that I had walked into a joke – when he adds, “those Federation people are really great.”
I leaned forward and asked him to tell me what he meant. My cab driver explained that “those Federation people” brought him to this country, taught him English, gave him a place to live, and food to eat. They introduced him to his wife. And he proudly shared that today he is a cab driver and can drive anywhere he wants to go. He told me about the family that he and his wife had built – and about their grandson who would be starting law school. This man was a Holocaust survivor, who had lost his entire family during the war. He shared that “those Federation people” became his family.
I think about this story around Super Sunday each year. How many donors, volunteers, professionals, and agencies were involved to make this man’s story possible? No one person alone could accomplish this story.
And no one person or organization could accomplish what our community has over the past seven months. Our community doesn’t just project its values but backs them up with decisive action and selfless generosity. Despite our current need for physical distance, we have found new ways to embrace each other and protect the institutions of Jewish life that make Cleveland one of the strongest and most caring Jewish communities in the world.
It is through our connections and community that we find our strength and resilience. It’s through connections and community that we laugh and celebrate our pride in Cleveland and Jewish Cleveland. This weekend, I hope that you will join me for two great Cleveland traditions, albeit in a different, 2020-esque way.
On Sunday, October 18, we will host the first, all-virtual “Super Sunday,” our community’s largest one-day give-a-thon in support of our Jewish community’s annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. I hope you will join me and hundreds of other community members throughout the day online raising the critical dollars necessary to meet community needs. And, since you will be able to participate in this year’s Super Sunday without leaving the comfort of your own home, you can get into the action and not miss any of the action when our beloved Browns take the field that afternoon against that team from Pittsburgh.
Thank you for all you’ve done over this difficult year to make things easier for someone else. Likewise, thank you for all you will do to ensure our community is – and will continue to be – HERE FOR GOOD.
Stay safe, stay connected, and Go Browns!
Erika B. Rudin-Luria
p.s.: To hear more about the strength of our connections and community in Cleveland, as well as throughout the Jewish world, please join me at this year’s General Assembly hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America. The first plenary on October 25, 2020 at 7 pm will feature a discussion about social capital and community with Priya Parker (The Art of Giving) and Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone and Upswing) – followed by a panel with Isaac Herzog, chairman of the executive, Jewish Agency for Israel; Aliza Kline, co-founder and CEO, OneTable; and me.