From an early age, I understood that I was part of something much greater than myself. My grandmothers worked for the creation of Israel. One was the consummate fundraiser and the other met her husband in a parade promoting the Zionist dream. My years at Jewish summer camp taught me “all I needed to know,” including living in a tight community where every decision, activity and meal was linked to those around me. My childhood in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, opened my eyes to the wonder of knowing neighbors, feeling a part of what is happening in the streets, and connecting with nearby institutions that would enrich my development.
Promoting a sense of community “fuels my fire.” I do so through my fundraising, where I emphasize the significance of going beyond personal needs to help others. I succeed not only when a donor makes a gift, but when they feel that they belong to a giving community. Being part of a community places me “at home” in a period of time and in a choice of activities, opinions and personal relations. Belonging provides me with the security to enjoy a healthy perspective on life.
Finding one’s community is not always easy. This Hanukah, give yourself the gift of community. Work out at the same time every day, join a synagogue and become active however you’d like, volunteer with others, or reach out to your “old” friends to rekindle your timeless relationships.
Hanukah means dedication. Dedicate yourself to your community, for you will receive in return the wonderful gift of a fuller life.
Beth Gluck is executive director of the Jewish National Fund, Greater Atlanta.