From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With gratitude 5/6/22

By Shelley Hubal

May 1 of this year marks my third anniversary as Federation executive director here in Binghamton. One of the first meetings I had after starting this job was with Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter’s executive editor. She stressed to me the importance of writing a column to communicate directly with community members. I knew right away the title of the column would be “With gratitude” and I have always tried to write what is in my heart. I want to share with you just some of the recent things for which I find myself grateful. 

My son, Joshua, came home for the first few nights of Passover. What a delight it was to be around his infectious, happy energy. Several years ago, he wrote and illustrated a “Looney Tunes Haggadah.” This haggadah has all the Warner Brothers characters telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt, except with Jewish names and characteristics. So, for the last several years, the Hubal family has been entertained during our seders with Bugs Bunny wearing a tallis and a kippah as “Rabbi Rabbit.” By his side is Sylvester as “Cantor Cat.” You get the idea. I am truly grateful for all the laughter we share at our seders year after year. While I am at it, I will extend my gratitude to my mother-in-law, Susan Hubal, for always cooking up a Passover storm. She knocked it out of the park again this year! 

For the last several weeks, the Binghamton Federation has been part of the larger JFNA efforts to raise funds in support of Ukrainian refugees. To date, our region has raised more than $11,000 for these efforts. I cannot describe to you how gratifying it feels to connect with our donors in this way. What a caring community we have. I am thankful for each generous contributor. 

After a recent storm knocked out power for much of our region, I hope we all have a new appreciation for the electricity we take for granted every day. I know I do.

This year, we held a communitywide commemoration for Yom Hashoah on April 26. The best part of my job is doing communitywide programming. I especially like to create moments where we can come together as one Jewish community and honor our faith and shared history. I am grateful for the talented clergy we have here in the Binghamton area. Each one of our local rabbis brings a different perspective and wisdom to the table. A big thank you to everyone who helped to make the Yom Hashoah event meaningful again this year.

Every month, Federation distributes allocated funds to several local Jewish organizations. Recently, it struck me just how connected we all are. Behind each dollar, there is a generous donor. Behind each donor is a Campaign volunteer who helped to solicit the funds. Behind all the funds are the Federation board members who carefully look after our precious resources. Lastly, behind it all is the talented and dedicated staff of the Federation, Reporter and Jewish Family Service. They work hard to keep our community connected and whole. For all this, I am truly grateful and have never once taken any of it for granted.

It is not always easy to be in a leadership role. Squabbles happen and I have had my share of storms to weather, but, as I sit here today, I can tell you all that my heart is truly full of gratitude for all the generous people with whom I get to co-create this Jewish community. As always, I am wishing you all an open heart and many blessings. Thank you for trusting in me the last three years.