By Haley Trager
A few weeks ago on a Friday morning, I found myself at the Ibn Gabriel School, a Jewish day school in Madrid, Spain. I was surrounded by hundreds of young children welcoming Shabbat with songs, challah, candles, and grape juice. We held hands and laughed and danced. It was only a few days prior that I was singing Hebrew songs and assembling puzzles with a group of second graders at another Jewish day school, this time in Casablanca, Morocco. How quickly these two experiences took me back to my days as a teacher at The DuBow Preschool. The wide-eyed excitement in the children’s voices as they sang in Hebrew. The joy in their faces when you sat next to them outside and made silly faces. Even though miles and worlds apart, these kids could have been the same children I had the pleasure of teaching in Jacksonville.
These visits were part of a study mission with Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet. Together over the course of the week, I, along with 130 other Cabinet members from across 39 communities in North America, explored the intersection of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. We engaged with Federation’s strategic partners on the ground that are providing critical aid for Jews in need and ensuring continuity through Jewish education and care. The mission provided the opportunities to see these communities through our values of chesed, tikkun olam, and tzedakah.
Each time I participate in a Federation mission, I become increasingly aware that we are indeed one large, global Jewish family. And, as Jews, we are all responsible for one another. With the money raised through Federation’s Annual Campaign, we provide programs that strengthen our Jewish identity and enable quality Jewish education worldwide. We also do our best to ensure every Jewish person has access to medical care, kosher food, and can live their lives with dignity.
I’ll never forget the smiling faces of the seniors when we visited the Old Age Home and Levine Residence in Casablanca. No translators were necessary - the common language of a warm smile and heartfelt hug transcends all language barriers. When I became involved with Federation, I thought I was doing my small part to change the world; little did I know, it was my own world that would change. Please join me by answering the call to contribute to Federation’s Annual Campaign.