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Developing Jewish Leaders Overseas

By Susie Sorkin

Judit (R) and Susie (L)

I want to introduce you to Judit – this beautiful young woman in the picture. Judit is a vibrant Jewish leader in Budapest. She was a very young child when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90’s.  At that time, Judit and her family’s knowledge and experience with Judaism was nil.

That’s where our overseas partner, the JDC – the American Joint Distribution Committee, our arm for providing rescue, relief and renewal for Jews around the world – stepped in. Along with the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, they started a remarkable summer camp in Svarvas, Hungary.

Today that camp has become the training ground for future Jewish leaders and the rebirth of Judaism. Judit is a glowing example of the rebuilding of a Jewish community, one nearly wiped out by the Holocaust and communism – both literally and figuratively – next month is she is marrying her camp sweetheart at Svarvas!

JCF delegation at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania

Less than 3 weeks ago, along with nine others, I had the privilege of traveling to Budapest, Riga and Vilnius to see what outstanding work the JDC does on our behalf. While there, one of the most moving experiences visits was the Shabbat dinner we shared with Judit and other leaders of Svarsas. In a Budapest restaurant, together we sang Shalom Aleichem, recited Kiddush and blessed the young adults. Thanks to your support and the power of community, our global Jewish peoplehood is growing in a ruach and light unimaginable just 20 years ago.

It’s all about your gift to Federation and for that I am grateful.

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