L’hitraot!: Memphians Join Jewish Federations of North America Leaders Mission to Kiev and Israel
Key leaders of next year’s Annual Community Campaign left Memphis Sunday to join their peers for Jewish Federations of North America’s campaign chair’s and director’s mission to Kiev and Israel.
Pictured above, Eileen Posner (part of the campaign volunteer leadership team), Sheryl Alexander (JCP’s Director of Financial Resource Development), and Cindy Finestone (Memphis Jewish Federation board member and JCP Financial Resource Developmet co-chair), join 100 other volunteer and professional “campaigners” for a first-hand glimpse of the impact our campaign fundraising makes in the overseas communities we serve.
In the photo, they’ve just arrived in Kiev, where they will visit social service and Jewish engagement programs run by our overseas partners, the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Notice the massive pile of luggage they’re schlepping. This isn’t a case of careless over-packing, but rather an example of the famous generosity of the Memphis community.
“While there, we’ll be visiting some of our partner organizations, seeing firsthand how our annual campaign dollars are used to support a variety of amazing programs,” Sheryl explained before departing. “We asked our partner agencies if there were any items the people living there could use and they provided us with a list.”
This list included everyday items for school and home- pencils and notebooks, socks and toiletries- but also Judaica. Contacts at partner agencies said Polish Jews were always in need of jewelry featuring Hebrew letters and Jewish symbols, Kippot, Kiddush cups, Chanukah menorahs, and Havdalah candles.
“We were overwhelmed by the community’s incredible generosity,” Sheryl said. “We filled a giant box in the JCP offices with all of the items on the list. In fact, we had to publicly announce an end to collections because we didn’t think we’d be able to transport any more in our allowed baggage!”
Busy First Day
Along with many of the photos in this article, Sheryl sent this dispatch summing up the activities of the first portion of the first day on the ground in Kiev.
“We just returned from visiting the memorial to the 100,000 people slaughtered by the Nazis at Babi Yar over several days in Kiev during WWII. 40,000 were Jews and as a result the entire Jewish community of Kiev was eliminated.
“As you walk into the area where people were shot and their bodies dropped into the ravine, it is quiet and peaceful. There are really interesting memorial stones along the way for different segments of people and a beautiful menorah marking the area in front of the ravine.
“The inhumanity and irrational slaughter of so many people purposely is beyond comprehension and it was impossible not to cry. What a powerful way to start this journey.”
More to Come
After their time in Kiev, the group will then travel to Israel to witness first hand our work with the most vulnerable populations and participate in high level briefings on the challenges facing Israeli society. Keep an eye out on JCPConnect for more stories from their travels.