Reflection and Renewal

Posted by: Andy Lipkin on Thursday, September 26, 2019

Personally, I’m reflecting on the major challenge in my life over the past year. I would never have guessed 2019 would bring heart surgery for me. But it did. That was a scary and emotional time. But the past year also brought my daughter Rachel’s wedding, a wonderful celebration of her and my new son-in-law, Scott. And, last month, my son Sean relocated to Columbus from Chicago.

I’m also reflecting on the past year at the Federation and its agencies. We know we’re doing great work with, and for, the Jewish and general communities. However, we must evaluate our weaknesses, as well as our strengths. Each year we must take stock of where we’ve been, where we’re going, and determine if we need to make changes. Sometimes priorities need to be adjusted to address the changing needs of our community. Over the past year, we’ve seen the closing of the General Motors plant, Northside Hospital, and the Vindicator. Those losses impact the community, and by extension, the Federation. We are in the midst of changing our structure to better deliver the wonderful programs and services we offer.

As part of being the convener for the regional Jewish community, a role we take seriously, the Federation is in the final stages of establishing the Youngstown Area Jewish Cemeteries Association to help preserve the Jewish cemeteries in and around Youngstown. We’re also working with the area Temples to share services. We are strongest when we work together. Our community is reinventing itself, as it must. But what never changes is our commitment to the Jewish and general communities in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys.

Our Annual Campaign continues to be critical to what we do locally, in Israel, and in 70 countries throughout the world. Your generosity means we can do what we do. The Campaign kicked off Sept. 19 this year with our Inaugural Event. I hope you were able to attend. We were fortunate to have Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, a world-renowned Holocaust and anti-Semitism expert, speak at the event. She is probably most widely known for the libel lawsuit brought against her in 1996 by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier. She was surprised he sued him, because she assumed he was proud to be a denier. She fought the lawsuit by proving what she wrote was the truth. “Many of us are gobsmacked that a couple decades after the Holocaust this is happening again,” she said. Dr. Lipstadt noted that the rise in anti-Semitism is coming from many directions. “Haters feel freer to express their hate in a way they haven’t before,” she added.

And that’s why it’s important the Federation and its agencies continue to do the work they do, with your help. You power caring. You power Jewish identity. You power refuge. Thank you.

I hope the coming year is a wonderful one for you!


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