First Person

FIRST PERSON At Passover, cherishing the freedom to help others

Shelly Silverman
Shelly Silverman

As we finish up the week of Passover, I feel especially aware of what freedom means. Freedom is a word that encompasses so much. But for me, the freedom to have choices in so many arenas in my life is almost overwhelming. I can CHOOSE to do almost anything. For the entirety of my life, I have chosen to spend time doing community service.

I have the privilege of volunteering to chair the annual campaign for the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. Most people might think, “Ugh, do you really like asking people for money?” I do! Yes, I ask people to make a pledge to our campaign, but I actually think I am offering them a real opportunity. How often do you think that just one person can make a difference? Here in Tucson, it happens every day. Each time a donor says yes, they become an integral part of the success in creating opportunities for others who are so much less fortunate.

At the JFSA, we always strive to make every person count, to be sure that all people, Jews and all others are able to live in safety, with dignity and respect. Our dollars fund programs that ensure the basic needs for those who are so much less fortunate. We really try to help everyone. We fund programs for seniors, for children, for students, for anyone who might need assistance. We provide counseling for a struggling single parent, or amazing programming for adults and children with disabilities. We make it possible for students at the University of Arizona to go on Birthright trips to Israel, and provide compassionate care for senior citizens who need a helping hand. Our donors provide assistance for the most vulnerable in Israel and around the world who so desperately need our help. There are Jews in Tucson who cannot afford utilities or rent. It’s a really easy ask for me. Who wouldn’t want to step up and say YES? The lion’s shares of our dollars stay right here in Southern Arizona.

In 2006 we raised $4 million in our campaign. In 2007, it dropped to $3 million. People were struggling, and it was understandable. But all these years later, we are still only at $3.5 million. It is our goal to become whole again. We are going to raise $4 million in 2016, and we are going to do it with all of you. Our community is amazing. And here is what I have found overwhelmingly wonderful: When people are asked, they donate.

Freedom is such a beautiful gift for all of us. I am filled with gratitude for the life I have. I think many of us are. When you look at the world, there are so many people who are so much more desperate than we are. What a pleasure to share with them. Helping others through the Jewish Federation makes me feel whole and I hope you will join me in this effort. I am asking you to step up and make a difference. If you are in a position, I hope you will consider a donation to the JFSA. Visit or text JFSA and the amount of your pledge to 41444. It’s a good thing … a very good thing. Say YES!