When my children were young, we listened to a song by Rabbi Larry Milder called “Wherever You Go.” According to the song, wherever you are, even if you are somewhere newish, you will never be alone when you say you are a Jew. I love this song because it resonates on so many levels.
On a personal level, this song describes how the transition for my family from New York to Norfolk was eased by the presence of an incredible Jewish community. Almost immediately, Norfolk and Virginia Beach felt like home because of the welcome we received from our community – including the Jewish Community Center, the Federation, the Hebrew Academy and, most important, the caring and committed individual members of our community. To paraphrase the song, we never felt alone.
My choice to be involved in Jewish philanthropy is driven by this concept of community. My parents taught me that it is important for each individual to make a difference. Watching them participate in a wide variety of Jewish community causes, I saw the impact that each person can have on the Jewish community – both locally and globally. In addition, my Jewish education focused on tikkun olam – our responsibility to repair the world. I contribute my time and expertise to Jewish causes to help build and promote a strong and vibrant Jewish community locally, in Israel, and wherever there are Jews.
I also participate because I can. I have a wonderfully supportive husband, who also “gets it,” children who quickly understood why Mom had to be at yet another meeting, and a community that has offered many opportunities for involvement. The UJFT and, most especially, the Women’s Cabinet, have enabled me to do what I believe is right, while also forming lifelong friendships with those I have met in the process.
Laura Geringer Gross