Saturday, October 27, 2012

Witnessing Gratitude

Twenty years ago, an eleven year old girl and her family received boxes filled with food from strangers.  Living in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina, she didn’t know where the boxes came from, but could sense from the writing on the outside, it was from far away.  She would find out years later that the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was responsible for those boxes that helped her family survive.  During that time, her mother decided to send her and her sister to Israel for summer camp.  The summer was fun, safe and away from the crisis at home.  At the end of the summer, she and her sister would not return home.  For safety, they stayed in Israel and through programs funded by The Jewish Federation and JDC, she and her sister thrived and wouldn’t return home until six years later.  Within days of arriving in Bosnia-Herzegovina, she realized that this was no longer her home and in two weeks she returned to Israel. 

This week, I met this woman now in her early 30’s.  As she learned of those strangers who helped her and her family, her Jewish identity was shaped by the immense gratitude she felt toward a community who cared for her as a little girl.  As I introduced her to donors and she said, “Thank you for rescuing me and giving me my life,” donors witnessed the impact of their dollars.  It is a rare and special moment when donors meet the recipient who was nourished by their gift physically, emotionally and spiritually.   Donors were especially moved when she shared that her life today is dedicated to giving back to the community and working as a Jewish Professional.

Today, I’m grateful for my family, for colleagues here and around the world and for the generosity of strangers who faithfully donate their money to change the lives of strangers.


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