143 Elyse Cardon and Rachel Abrams have shared a lot of special time together at the Federation, although their paths never crossed until a few years ago. Elyse, a native of the area, grew up at Temple Israel and always felt close to this Jewish community. Rachel Abrams met her husband at Duke, lived in Pennsylvania for years, and moved here five years ago. Rachel, active with the Federation in Pittsburgh, remembers coming to the JCC pool here and being approached by Elyse and others, easily making friends and starting what would become a path toward future involvement with the Federation’s Young Adult Division (YAD).

Elyse and her husband David, Rachel and her husband Marc, and eight other couples soon became involved in the Federation’s new Tidewater Couples Project (TCP). The goal of the project was to expand their social network and introduce these young couples to the mission of the Federation. The group met ten times during the 2007 – 2008 year, to learn, socialize and enjoy time together. At the end of the year TCP couples along with other Young Adult Division emerging leaders were invited to join the Federation’s Hineni – Institute for Leadership Development sponsored by the Simon Family Foundation.  The program culminated last June in a weeklong mission to Israel for graduates sponsored by the Tom Hofheimer Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.

For both Elyse and Rachel, the trip to Israel was life changing. “After we had spent two years immersed in the work of the Federation , finding out much more about what we do locally and overseas, to finally go and see Israel on a mission trip was like coming home—it all made sense to us,” they said.

Feeling empowered and energized upon their return, many of the Hineni  graduates went on to serve on boards in the community as young leaders. The Abrams and Cardons exemplify community commitment and involvement. Rachel Abrams is on the HAT Board, and her husband Marc is on the JCC board, the YAD cabinet and is a Young Leadership Campaign co-chair. Elyse is on the Holocaust Commission and David is both a Film Festival Committee co-chair and HAT board member.

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