A sense of empowerment is in the air. While reality can be daunting, it is within each of us – with the help of our community – to feel empowered to make changes. Recent events in the Jewish community have demonstrated how the cohesiveness of community brings strength and determination to every individual.
“OC Works! A Community-Wide Event for Job-Seekers” is a primary example. The day-long session, sponsored by the Jewish Federation Assistance Center in partnership with the Orange County One-Stop Center, CareerKungFu.com, Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Community Center of Orange County, Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, as well as many of Orange County’s synagogues, did much to put a new spin on the task of finding a job in a tough economy. Job seekers may not be able to change the economy, but they can change their attitudes and improve their skills. They can surround themselves with positive people, develop a positive attitude, learn new skills and strategies, and use their time more productively. Moreover, they can use the resources of the Jewish community and their own professional networks as a source of guidance and empowerment.
Similarly, the entire Jewish community and many others in Orange County are rallying around the Jewish students at UCI. The idea is to show support and provide the tools to keep students actively engaged in positive activities. While the results of the investigation concerning the actions of the eleven students who interrupted the presentation of Ambassador Michael Oren have not been concluded as of this writing, the community has strongly supported the students. These students are busier than ever, with numerous activities from Hillel, Anteaters for Israel, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Epsilon Phi, the Rose Project, Chabad at UCI, the Jewish studies program, and other opportunities to explore and embrace Judaism. They are going to play a vital role in Israel Expo 2010, giving them a stronger connection to the overall Jewish community.
Finally, the women of the Jewish community turned out in large numbers and showed how much and in how many ways they can make a difference at the Women’s Philanthropy luncheon. Anne Entin honoree Susan Glass, who said that all volunteers get more out of volunteering than they give, told the group to “imagine how much better the world would be if everyone encouraged someone to get involved.” Rabbi Heidi Cohen described Glass as “a ner tamid, reminding us that we can be a light to our community.” Keynote speaker Jamie McCourt advised the attendees to “care about your friends. They pull you through. The Jewish people are one big family.” Debbie Margolis, president of Women’s Philanthropy, explained that the name of the group was changed five years ago to “empower women who want to help the world. Now Women’s Philanthropy brings joy and service to public schools through the Reading Partners program, brings a dose of happiness to those serving in the military through Mitzvah Mavens, and empowers our daughters to serve the community.”
Yes, we can make a difference. The power to do that is within each of us, with the nurturing, guidance, and support of our community. Yasher koach to everyone who makes the decision to get involved.