By the time you read this, the Federation’s Executive Director, Diane Sloyer, two co-Presidents Carol Blau and Beth Dubas, and I will have returned from the Jewish Federation’s of North America’s General Assembly, where the Jewish Federation of Rockland County will be honored for reaching its silver anniversary.
The Jewish Federation of Rockland County was one of the last in North America created. Prior to doing so in 1985, this community ran a successful United Jewish Appeal campaign, raising $1.1 million to send to Israel. The desire among community leaders, though, to address needs within this community, led to the birth of an organization that could do both.
Over the years, the Federation has stretched and grown to do so. The organization founded and funded the fledgling Lower Hudson Valley YM-YWHA on a shoestring budget. Today, you know that organization as JCC Rockland, which offers more than 1,500 programs a year.
Shortly after the Federation started the Y, Rockland Jewish Family Service was created, operating first as a committee of the Federation. They were meeting immediate needs of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were resettling in the area. Today JFS has gone on to offer more traditional support and services, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, autism and other counseling needs.
Within those first few years, the Education Center was also founded and this newspaper was established. The feeling among the founders was that this community needed a focal point, a center, a voice, and a Federation could provide it.
Twenty five years is not that long a time. If we think of ourselves at 25, most of us were just beginning to find our way in life as young adults embarking on careers, finding their mates, and settling down. Organizations grow perhaps a bit faster, and settle down a little sooner.
Federation, having started many organizations in the county, and offering funds and assistance to others, has an established place. And it has gotten there, and done the work that it does, because of the people you will read about in this issue, which is unlike any of the regular monthly publications.
This anniversary issue contains no “news” in it in a traditional sense. There are no events, no activities, no upcoming things to promote. Instead, it is a chronicle of what Federation had done, its achievements over the past 25 years – an homage and celebration of this silver anniversary.
In this issue, I’ve tried to give a little bit of a local history lesson and connect the past to the present. Although each month you read this paper you can usually find news about all of these organizations through their current work, here I hope we’ve given you an overview, of why and how Jewish Family Service, JCC Rockland, Hillel at SUNY Rockland, the Education Center and this newspaper came to be, who they serve and why they were founded.
A quarter century is not so long that many of the faces present at the start are still seated at the table. These men and women believed in what they were doing and create something lasting that would make Rockland County better for us all.
November 12, 2010