By Shelley Hubal
Grandma Hannah had a ceramic studio in her basement on Wedgewood Terrace. For years, she taught lessons several nights a week. I remember her students, mostly women, sitting around large tables in the dusty basement. They would schmooze and smoke cigarettes while scrubbing greenware, rolling out clay or glazing their pieces. The bond those women shared went beyond their time in the basement. I recall how they supported one another through the loss of loved ones, divorces and other life events. They created their own community.
We all define community according to our life experiences. Observing the women in grandma’s dusty studio care for one another is just one small life experience that impacts my views. I had the honor to work alongside incredibly resilient parents as an advocate for people with disabilities. The support and compassion they shared will forever shape my definition of community. The work I do as Federation director has shown me another way community has a positive impact on people’s lives.
Community is sharing a hug at a shiva call. Community is giving a meaningful donation in support of an institution. Community is attending services on Shabbat or coming together to celebrate Hanukkah. Community is checking on our elderly neighbors. The list goes on.
Right now, our Binghamton Jewish community is shrinking and we collectively need to find a new path. The people in leadership positions have no one to replace them. Think about that: in a few short years, we may not have a Federation because there will be no leadership. In case you aren’t aware, the Federation is the cornerstone of our community. We go beyond fund-raising; we are the convener of a multitude of resources that benefit so many. You can go to www.jfgb.org and click on our “Year in Review” to see all the ways Federation created community in 2022.
If you have ever thought about making a difference, the time is now. This community needs you. I promise you will get back in spades what you give. Being part of something bigger than yourself and knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others will sustain you and forever change your outlook on life. To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to share where you see our community in the future, call me at the Federation office at 724-2332. I look forward to connecting with you and co-creating a compassionate community for all.