A few words from Rishon: Emerging leaders, who are planning this year’s Super Sunday

by | Oct 28, 2019 | What’s Happening

Sunday, November 17, 9:30 am, Sandler Family Campus

Ask anyone on this year’s Super Sunday planning committee why they became active in Jewish life in Tidewater and one word will be heard over and over: community.

And that’s why they are all dedicated to strengthening the bonds in the community and securing its future. It fits right in with this year’s Super Sunday theme, which is all about seeing the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s mission clearly and showing everyone else what we see.

“I believe in the values of our people and what we can accomplish if we unite behind a shared vision,” says Eitan Altshuler. “In areas like Hampton Roads, us Jews of the Diaspora have to make a point of being involved in our community so that we don’t have to stand alone here…being Jewish is not as much of an individual identity as it is of being part of a community.”

The community includes the youngest Jews, celebrating when they first enter the world, to the oldest Jews, who are taken care of until their very last day of life. And it’s everyone in between—those who go to camp every summer, those who bake Challah every Friday, those who daven every day of the week, and even those who only step inside a shul on the High Holidays.

“I had the luxury of attending a UJFT mission trip to Israel in 2017. I saw first-hand how the money we raise on Super Sunday supports meaningful and critical programs,” says Amie Harrell, who is the leader of this year’s committee.

“The families and organizations depend on our support. I feel fortunate and honored that my family plays a small part in their success,” she says.

What was once called the Super Sunday Steering Committee is now Rishon: Emerging Leaders, which means “the first.” It’s not just for spreading the message of Super Sunday’s importance, but it’s developing the next generation of Jewish leaders in Tidewater. Past participants have made their mark through YAD and in the greater Tidewater community. It’s truly a stepping stone to greater things.

The committee is comprised of natives to Tidewater, such as Harrell, and those who came here fleeing persecution, such as Igor Vaserfirer.

“I support Tidewater’s Jewish community because the community supported me,” he says. “When my family escaped a poverty-stricken country after the fall of the USSR, Jewish Family Service of Tidewater and a slew of other Jewish organizations huddled around us with the guidance and resources that allowed us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and, eventually, thrive in our new home.”

“I will be forever grateful to this Jewish community and intend to give back to the best of my abilities,” he says.

Some, like Tal Feldman, came from Israel, and have found a home here.

“Knowing that I can contact the Jewish community made me feel very safe and more secure during my first year here when I was still settling down and getting to know the area and getting used to the life here,” she says.

It makes her want to give back.

“Super Sunday is important for me because I get more exposure to the organization that does amazing things around the world for Jews,” she says.

It’s important to Hilary and Damian Gordon because the future of the Jewish community is important to them.

“I was raised in a rural area with a small concentration of Jewish people. Now, living in Hampton Roads, we love being a part of a vibrant Jewish community and allowing our son the opportunity to experience a totally different Jewish upbringing than I did,” Hilary says.

“I feel that this strong community is helping our son establish a strong Jewish foundation that he will hopefully pass along when he has a family of his own.”

Damian agrees.

“The community is family and supporting family is definitely a priority in my book,” he says.

Harrell has her children’s future in mind, too.

“Volunteering for Super Sunday is a little thing I can do today to help maintain a successful and thriving Jewish community for my children’s future,” she says.