September 6, 2021

Federation Update

Filed under: Michael — michael @ 2:45 am

As the New Year approaches, it is time to reflect on our efforts, and our mitzvot, as well as our shortcomings of the past year both spiritually, ethically and communally.

Each year brings adversity, but I think we can all agree that the past year has been particularly challenging for the Jewish people, Israel and humanity.

It has been particularly challenging for our Federation as most of our procedures and processes have been modified due the health, social, and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Our most significant change was the retirement of our Executive Director Bill Wallen after 18 years of service.  He has given us friendship, leadership, perspective, reason and inspiration.  He has given of his time, his sweat and his money.   He has also given one of the greatest gifts that one can give another, the gift of certainty. For over 40 years Bill has been a consistent and constant presence and advocate for justice, kindness and humanity through his work as a Federation board member, teacher, committee chair, President and finally Executive Director.  We, our Federation community, has always known that Bill would get the job done with dignity and with consensus.  Bill has been a consistent community builder as a volunteer in our Jewish community, the interfaith community as well as in his professional life in the mental health field.  

Fortunately, Bill has graciously committed to continuing to serve on the Federation executive committee and mentor our members as we transition to an all-volunteer organization for the next year.  Many tasks will need to be delegated and Bill has agreed to help make this transition as smooth as possible over the coming year.  He has also volunteered to continue representing the Federation in our interfaith activities in our community and at our local universities.

Currently, the Federation office is not physically open, and we no longer employ a secretary,  but we can be reached by email, telephone, and through our PO Box at the Hollidaysburg office.  We check our email daily and are returning all phone calls.  We have updated our computer, email lists, and accounting software. I want to thank our executive committee of Clark Adelman, Ronna Lasser, Mickey Port, Neil Rudel, Roz Sky, and Bill Wallen for their help in transitioning the Federation to an all volunteer structure for the past year. We will reevaluate this plan at the end of the year.

Our website is in it’s 12th year and is continuing to be updated on a regular basis.  Please check the website often for program updates, happenings, videos, news online, book reviews and our community calendar.

Meetings have been virtual via Zoom but we plan on having our first person Board of Director and Annual Meetings on Wednesday, October 13th.

Our Campaign to raise funds for local philanthropy and for Jews in need throughout the world continues and we thank you for your support.  Here are some updates on our programs —

  • We have presented adult education virtual classes via Zoom featuring A Tour of Jewish Paris  hosted by Karen Rudel in January and “From Tevye to Tevye, There’s No One Like Tevye: Jewish History and Memory from Shtetl to Stage” presented by Joellyn Zollman in May.
  • the Veteran’s Memorial Service at the congregational cemeteries in May was our first in person event since the pandemic.  We honored the memory of Henry Weinberg for his commitment to our community and his commitment to honoring our veterans.
  • August 22nd was Federation night at the Curve, and 54 members enjoyed the night.
  • We will be having a one night Film Festival on Thursday, September 23rd at the C2 Trolley Pavilion  at Lakemont Park.  Dinner at 6pm catered by Paula and Dave Binus and movie, The Keeper, at 7pm.

Our plans for the coming year include: 

  • Presenting the 23st annual Jewish Film Festival in February and March of 2022.  We welcome suggestions for films to consider and ideas on what we can do to encourage more of our Jewish community to attend.  The Festival is a great way to bring our community together.
  • Unfortunately, the Celebrate Diversity committee has decided to suspend operations after 26 years, but is working to create a template for our member schools and other communities.  The program was begun by Linda Zionts under the Federation’s auspices. Federation sponsored the trip to the Holocaust museum where generally 200-250 students attend. Since the beginning of the program, we have sent around 5,000 of our local 7th and 8th graders to the museum.  Mazel tov to Judi Sue Meisner for her leadership.

We continue to support:

  • The Altoona Jewish Community Sunday School – we are its largest funder.
  • Jewish programming at local colleges and provide camp scholarships.
  • Jews in need in Israel and throughout the world – 50% of our funds go for this purpose.
  • PJ Library – The program for kids ages 9-11 is called PJ Our Way.  We have brochures on how to sign up. It extends the “Book of the Month” club except now the kids select their own books.  Pick up a brochure for anyone you know who might be interested.  The original PJ Library program is for kids ages 6 months through 8 years.  Call the Federation office for details.

Please consider a gift to  our annual campaign if you have yet to do so, as our goal is 100% community membership. Please help us to build a better community here and to help other Jews wherever they are.   May we all be blessed with health and happiness and a good new year.                                   

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