We Are Proud To Be Different

We are different and we embrace differences.

As a Federation, we are a unique organization and different from others across North America. Our purpose is to support, sustain, build and ignite our Jewish community. We identify our greatest challenges and we address them with our partners. When we see a challenge that presents an opportunity for us to respond and bring positive results, we move forward. We don’t hesitate to make an impact.

We have a growing number of adults with special needs in Los Angeles. Each one deserves a path to a meaningful and Jewish life in our community, not outside of it.

This is a challenge we are facing head on — today.

Let me tell you about a young woman with special needs, who I’ll call Sarah. I met Sarah during the summer after her high school graduation. She had persevered through her formal education, yet was uncertain about her future.

Through our partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America and the Ruderman Family Foundation, Sarah spent her summer as an intern in our Federation. She gained invaluable work experience and acquired important skills. She contributed significantly to our work, and we greatly appreciated her dedication. She made new friends and her self-esteem and confidence soared.

Sarah left her internship at the Federation with purpose and direction. She applied for and was offered a position as a Fellow at Shemesh Enterprises. This social enterprise was created here in Los Angeles, after seeing how Israel empowers those with special needs during a Jewish Federation mission. It was launched with seed funding from our Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative, in partnership with the Shalom Institute. Shemesh Enterprises offers Fellows the opportunity to learn vocational and life skills through agriculture, animal care and crafting goods, all imbued with a deep sense of Jewish learning and values.

Sarah’s experience at Shemesh Enterprises had a profound effect and instilled in her a great sense of confidence. The skills and values she learned were applicable to other opportunities she would later encounter in life.

Today, Sarah is working for the Los Angeles Dodgers because of a connection that was made at a Partners’ meeting of our new community-wide special needs initiative, LAJAC (the Los Angeles Jewish Abilities Center). She is happy and thriving and looking forward to an even brighter future.

Sarah is just one of thousands of adults in our community who need us to help them discover and fulfill their potential. LAJAC offers “Knowledge is Power” workshops for Jewish adults with special needs and caregivers throughout the year and all over Los Angeles. This information provides them with essential tools and resources to live meaningful and happy Jewish lives.

This is just one challenge we are facing together. I look forward to telling you about others. In the meantime, I wanted you to know that your support has the power to change a life and the future we share.

Proudly embracing our differences!

Jay Sanderson
President & CEO

Tags: From the CEO

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