Community-building at the heart of the Week of Extraordinary Deeds

The goals of the United Jewish Federation’s 2015 Week of Extraordinary Deeds are threefold: engagement, action, and tikkun olam, or repairing the world.

Achieving these goals means event organizers are tackling one of the larger challenges facing world Jewry today: how to positively connect Jews to their communities, and each other.

To build a stronger Tidewater Jewish community, a variety of events are planned, including Countdown to Mitzvah Day, a social media campaign on the UJFTidewater Facebook page, the Great Big Challah Bake on Thursday, Oct. 22, and the 2nd Annual Mitzvah Day on Sunday, Oct. 25.

Less visible, but equally as important, are conversations that kick off “The Week,” now in its third year.

Whether in homes, offices, or area restaurants, these one-on-one meetings will take place among community members about issues of concern in Tidewater, in the United States, in Israel, and in Jewish communities around the world.

The discussions are an opportunity for Federation volunteer ambassadors, leadership, and staff to meet with Annual Campaign donors and potential donors, talk about the impact that donations have on people in Tidewater and beyond, and listen to community members about Jewish issues that concern them.

“Face-to-face conversations are very important to us at the Federation,” says Harry Graber, UJFT executive vice president.

“We’ve found that meeting with members of the community and having honest and very personal discussions with them brings us together in working toward a stronger Jewish Tidewater, lets us all become familiar with concerns and issues, which means our agencies and our organizations are better able to meet the challenges facing us, and, most importantly, helping Jews everywhere live better lives.”

Graber sites a story he heard recently on NPR, in which Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, says:

“Face-to-face conversation is the most human—and humanizing—thing we do.… It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.”

Graber invites community members to call and set up discussions over breakfast, lunch, or coffee with volunteer ambassadors and Federation leadership, and join in the efforts to continue building a strong Tidewater Jewish community for this generation, and generations to come. The face-to-face conversations will continue throughout the 2016 Annual Campaign, which ends in June.

Visit to see all of the events during the Week of Extraordinary deeds, and participate in tikkun olam. Call 757-965-6124 to make a date for a one-on-one conversation.