They enter the room quietly and unadorned in their everyday attire. They are met warmly by their hosts, Steve and Art Sandler and quickly begin looking around for friends to greet and with whom to share the latest news of a business triumph, a special family achievement or news of a most recent wonderful occurrence. They catch the eyes of men they may have not seen in months or possibly since this same meeting 12 months ago. They greet these people warmly as well, because while their lives may not intersect often they often intersect when they are called together to stand as one for the Tidewater Jewish community, the protection of Israel and the health and welfare of Jews around the world.
Known as the Men’s Major, it is one event among many in support of the 2016 Annual Campaign and at its conclusion it will generate approximately one third of the annual campaign. The event is also characterized by an activity that is locally called a “caucus.” It is a simple anticipated event most welcomed by the attendees because after a case for Jewish needs is presented, almost everybody takes the opportunity to speak and ultimately announce their 2016 annual campaign gift to the group.
For 13 years as United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s executive vice president, I have been consistently amazed by the atmosphere and open discussion of the group and their heartfelt statements. It is a safe place characterized by mutual respect and common commitment. The conversation often includes personal inspiration for understanding the importance of Tzedakah and the debt owed to family, community and peoplehood when announcing their gift.
At its conclusion, while gratitude is expressed by the hosts, it is the informal and warm goodbyes that represent a mutual feeling of a job well done. However, there is also a recognition of the importance of the job that remains to be done; day after day, month after month and year after year. It is the historical transmitted duty and assumed honor of building vibrant and sacred Jewish communities.
“The road to the sacred leads through the secular,” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
by Harry Graber, executive vice president,
United Jewish Federation of Tidewater