When young adults unite

I’m always up for trying new things, so when United Jewish Communities announced that they were trying something new for the 2009 National Young Leadership Mission, I knew that I had to be a part of it. Last month, 600 young Jewish professionals from across North American, including 49 from the Bay Area, came together for the TikkuNOLAm conference focused on rebuilding the broken city of New Orleans.

The three-day event was a blur of dirt, shovels, ponchos, lumber and power tools. Our tikkun olam (Hebrew for "repairing the world") project was to rebuild a community center in St. Bernard’s Parish which had been hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. Although the task seemed daunting at first, we came together and did some amazing work. Wearing ponchos to keep out the drizzle and 100% humidity, the San Francisco delegation dug holes and trenches as a foundation for new volleyball courts. Other communities planted flowers, mended fences or built benches. Together the UJC was the largest group of volunteers to visit St. Bernard’s Parish as a single entity.

The participants in our San Francisco delegation gave of themselves and performed tikkun olam each and every day of the conference. I was proud to witness our strong group not only build a part of New Orleans, but also build the bonds for what could be a stronger San Francisco Jewish community. The conference gave many participants their first taste of types of programs that Federation supports and allowed them to view Federation through new eyes. So often we hear from the young adult community that they find it difficult to understand what Federation is.  Yet at this conference it was wonderful to not have to explain anything...the experience spoke to everyone more than any words ever could.

In the coming months the participants of  the TikkuNOLAm conference will work together to bring more service projects to the YAD community. I look forward to carrying the momentum that began in New Orleans back to San Francisco. I look forward to engaging more young Jewish leaders, like myself, in building our own community THROUGH helping others.

Abra Annes, Program and Campaign Manager, Young Adults Division


April 23, 2009


The Federation