We are now in the beginning days of the year 5781. I hope the High Holidays were meaningful for you and your families. I am sure you all join me in acknowledging how impressive our clergy and synagogues have been throughout these challenging times; they are our partners in building a strong and vibrant Jewish community here in Indianapolis. We are so lucky to live in a community that works collaboratively across our organizations. Thank you to our partners for sharing essential information about the wonderful programs, services and events happening throughout our community. It is our joy to be able to share with all of you this great work through our Connect with Purpose page; check out our one stop destination for ways to get connected. You can view what’s coming up by visiting www.jewishindianapolis.org/connect-with-purpose.
Freedom Sunday, December 1987
In my last Jewish Federation News article, I spoke about the struggle that many of us are feeling as we move through this pivotal moment in our community. I share with you a personal pivotal moment for me that set me on my professional career trajectory. On Dec. 6, 1987, 33 years ago, I had the incredible experience of joining an estimated 250,000 participants who gathered on the National Mall, calling for the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to extend his policy of Glasnost to Soviet Jews by putting an end to their forced assimilation and allowing their emigration from the Soviet Union. This rally was organized by a broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations including our national Jewish Federation system. At the time, I was a freshman at Indiana University (IU), and I was thrilled by the opportunity to join so many from Indianapolis, Bloomington, and around the State of Indiana including my father Dr. Doug Barton (see the photo on p. 27), from South Bend, for this life-changing event.
As a Bat-Mitzvah, I wore a bracelet with the name of a young 13-year-old Russian girl who was not able to celebrate publicly. A few years later as a college student, I marched for her and her family to be able to celebrate their Judaism as they wished. As fate would have it, a few years later during the summer before my Senior year at IU, I applied and was accepted to the Kroot Internship program at our very own Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. That summer, like these other pivotal moments, I had the unique opportunity to work for a very young Lori Moss at our Jewish Family Services (then called JFCS) with our newest community members in our Russian resettlement team. Our senior Russians were at the time living at Park Regency Apartments and my job was to help them navigate this new community. The rally, coupled with my profound internship experience, has led me on a beautiful Jewish organizational career that I wouldn’t change for the world.
New Global Change
Like the late 80s and early 90s marked the end of the Soviet Union and a paradigmatic shift in not only the world but also our own local Jewish community, COVID has now emerged as a new moment of worldwide change, affecting us at every level – global, national, regional, and local. And just as the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis and our national partners addressed the needs of our changing community then, we are doing the same now.
We are at our final push for our Annual Campaign and we need your help to get us to our goal. There has never been a greater need for the support of our community’s 2020 Annual Campaign that there is right now.
As the young Bat-Mitzvah girl with hopes for Jews around the world to be able to celebrate in freedom; As the participant who marched on Washington and was motivated by the power of the collective Jewish Community to create transformational change in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the former Soviet Union with our voices and actions; And as the Kroot Intern who just wanted to give back to the community that means so much to her: I thank you for your support of the Annual Campaign then and every year since.
This year, so many in our Jewish community are suffering from COVID and the economic downturn, scared because of the significant rise in antisemitism, and feeling isolated and alone in their homes. Now more than ever, we need your support. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a big difference for so many. Thank you for your support to the Jewish Federation and the Jewish community. I am hopeful for the next year ahead. With your help, we will remain Stronger Together.