Donate to Makom today!
On September 25, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah marked the anniversary of all of God’s creation, the Earth’s 5783rd birthday according to Jewish tradition. Soon after the shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah settled down, Jewish people commenced the fast of Yom Kippur. And a few days after the fast was broken, the weeklong holiday of Sukkot began on October 10. At Jerusalem Connection, we are committed to honoring the Jewish people and there is no better time to extend a message of friendship than the High Holidays. I am excited to tell you about a special relationship in our local community and a new opportunity for partnership.
In Northern Virginia, not too far from our office, there is a place called Makom (formerly Jewish Foundation for Group Homes/JFGH). Founded in 1982, Makom is a non-profit organization providing community living services and support to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). While Makom programs welcome individuals of all races, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and abilities, 70 percent of the residents at Makom are Jewish. Makom is a rare in that it is a home that provides for the religious needs of its Jewish residents, such as keeping a kosher kitchen, Sabbath observance, and Jewish holiday programs. They do so in accordance with their mission, which is to support and empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve the quality of life to which they aspire.
The leadership at Makom is intent to provide the best opportunities for members of their community. With that goal in mind, Makom recently reached out to the Jewish Agency to participate in the Shlichut program. Israel’s Shlichut Program is a training program for young Israelis to serve as emissaries for Israel to Jewish communities outside of Israel. A select group of outstanding emissaries from Israel move into Jewish communities for two years to provide the community with a living connection to Israel.
I have personally met many of the emissaries over the years and they are wonderful role models and effective leaders. Shlichim (Hebrew for emissaries) bring a contemporary and vibrant perspective on Israel and Jewish identity. The Shlichim can bridge the gap between Jews of different backgrounds; they offer a great opportunity to strengthen and enhance the community’s relationship to Israel. Through various opportunities and programs, the emissaries are effective in strengthening the Jewish identity of their communities, as well as enhancing an awareness of the significance of Israel in the life of the modern Jew.
It occurred to Makom’s leadership that their large Jewish community, comprised of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, could and should benefit from the Shlichut Program. Normally, the emissaries are sent to schools, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, camps, universities, and youth movements. On a recent phone call, Makom’s Chief Development Officer, Lew Fontek, told me, “all Jews, regardless of their abilities, deserve the chance to connect with the Jewish homeland.” So, he applied to the Shlichut Program and made the case for the community of Makom. The Jewish Agency agreed! Makom will welcome their very first emissary, Rut, just in time for the High Holidays! This is the first time an emissary from Israel is assigned a role strictly with the disability community. Her job as Shlicha will be to connect, support, and engage Makom with Israel. Isn’t that exciting?
I am reaching out to all our friends at Jerusalem Connection with one request: While the Jewish Agency provides the training and funding for the emissary, it is up to Makom to provide her with a furnished apartment. They have the apartment but still need help with the furnishings! It is my hope and prayer that our Christian supporters will feel compelled to help the Makom with your charitable donation to this worthy cause!
They are not asking for lavish accessories, some furniture from Ikea and basic household goods that anyone would get at their wedding shower: towels, utensils, coffee pot, sheets, rug, pots, etc. The intention is to keep the apartment and its furnishings for all future emissaries as well. Makom will do the shopping for the items but we need to help them raise the funds!
We believe offering this opportunity to the community of Makom is right in line with our mission to inform, educate and activate support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Happy Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot to all of you as well! If you would like to give to Makom, please write “Makom” on your donation check or the remittance envelope or feel free to call our offices or donate through our website.
President, The Jerusalem Connection