“Replace Darkness with Light”
When it comes to Jewish journeys, there’s no one road map. Jews do not neatly fit into a common identity. On the one hand, we are not clearly a marginalized group because we do not have structural barriers impeding our success and influence. On the other hand, we are not singularly powerful or even safe: Antisemitism continues to persist in the United States, and we suffer at its hands around the world.
Rabbi Steve Silberman noted that “a horrid attack upon all of us—in a Shul on Shabbos Pesach, a murderer entered. On the conclusion of our holiday celebrating freedom a wicked creature violated the sanctity of lives engaged in prayer and community. The last day of Pesach bears special meaning. The significance of the day is that it represents and teaches global justice and peace—it’s the ultimate hopeful Messianic message; a message which transcends religion and calls out to all humanity. This is how we Jews celebrate our specific holiday of freedom from slavery. Judaism cares for all! Let our message ring out to the entire world!” May the light of our mitzvot outweigh the darkness of this and other murderous attacks.
We, as a small Jewish Federation directed by the interests and needs of our community, must have serious discussions about how to best serve our Jewish community both at home and abroad. This is part of the story of our collective identity in the age of privilege. Because we experience and believe so much in our own story of success, we distance ourselves from the stories of Antisemitism and conflict that continue to plague our people here and elsewhere. But an essential dimension of Jewish people-hood is relating to fellow Jews who do not share our experience. Not because we feel vulnerable right now, but because they do.
This year’s campaign goal provides funding to continue our work and further expand programs to develop Jewish life and culture in Mobile and elsewhere. There is a wonderful vitality in Mobile that inspires us to commit ourselves to the 2019 Annual Campaign. We are dedicated to ensuring a vibrant Jewish future for generations to come. I feel so strongly about our future that I am willing to increase my personal pledge by 20%. I encourage you to consider replacing darkness with light by giving tzedakah to this year’s Annual Campaign and by increasing your gift. If you have not given previously, please consider making this your first gift of light.
By investing today, you ensure the longevity of a vibrant Jewish future.
Robert Bloom, Chair
Mobile Area Jewish Federation 2019 Annual Campaign
From the Desk of Dr. Johnathan Fratkin, MAJF Allocation Chairman,
Jews can influence the world around them in ways that make fascinating biographies. Grandpa made millions transporting liquor across the border to Americans who, in the throes of Prohibition, were desperate for whiskey and jazz. Grandson blew his fortune on an attempt to control the way Americans got, not whiskey, but pop music. But it was Pops who did the most for Jews of different stripes: by getting the government to recognize the needs of our landsman in Russia, by overseeing the Swiss as they disbursed Nazi-stolen art to surviving family members, and by showing the world the true nature of Wehrmacht officer Kurt Waldheim, previously a good-guy UN boss.
Life in Mobile may not be so thrilling, but the monies which the MAJF allocates to helping agencies do affect the lives of many. Most of our funds are donated to improve the situations of Jews in-a-pinch, no matter what subgroup. A Jew passing through Mobile may suddenly realize that he lacks the cash for a connecting bus to his home in Near Nothing, Alabama. He cannot approach a stranger in the street for a loan. But he can approach one of our Rabbis for help. Each Rabbi is supplied with a small emergency fund, set up by the Jewish Family Services for this very contingency. Moreover, the situations in which Jewish Family Services assist Jewish families are often more complex; names are never discussed in public or in private. Loose lips never sink these “ships.” Because of the extensive educational efforts directed toward Holocaust education in the Mobile public and parochial schools, the Gulf Coast Center of Holocaust Studies is the organization subsidized by our second-biggest award. Educators from the GCCHS promulgate literature, help create lesson plans, germinate ideas for lectures and circulate films. Beyond this, they sponsor a contest in which elementary school artists, writers, and poets vie for prizes presented at a special service held on Yom HaShoah. Based in Metairie, LA, and offering relief to families in 7 southern states, Jewish Children’s Regional Service receives a share of our monies, as do the Hillel organizations at the University of Alabama and Auburn University. At both schools these focal points for Jewish life offer on-campus meals on Shabbat and on Jewish holidays.
Founded by a Catholic couple affiliated with Springhill College, the Christian/Jewish Dialogue has done a great deal to improve communication and resulting image-building between members of these two great religions of Western Civilization. At the University of South Alabama, Dr. David Meola, a professor in the Department of History, is developing an outstanding program in Jewish studies. A financial contribution from the MAJF will be used to attract guest speakers to his lecture series, and possibly to boost student stipends for study abroad.
MOBILE AREA JEWISH FEDERATION
Allocation for 2019 $ 91,200
Designated For Community Education & Outreach – Allocations, Grants & Scholarship