June 28, 2024

Those who save one life, save the world entire…

Dear JFCS Family,

As we all walk down the road on our journey, we experience leadership in different forms and fashions. People lead from different places and spaces, and I am so very proud of the JFCS team as they are true leaders in the human services field.

This week, we were visited by very special partners: Amy Israel Pregulman and John Pregulman, who together run the KAVOD SHEF Initiative. In partnership with Seed the Dream Foundation, they provide financial support for the emergency needs of Holocaust Survivors nationwide. This national initiative partners with 42 different communities, supporting thousands of Survivors.

Each year, KAVOD SHEF contributes a challenge grant of up to $125,000 to the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, with a 1:1 matching gift, for every dollar raised by JFCS. This partnership has enabled us to exponentially increase support for the basic needs of our Holocaust Survivors. Since inception, we have raised over $1.17 million just for our community alone, supporting over 5,000 emergency needs. This has been life-saving and life-changing for our local Holocaust Survivors. It would not have been possible without our funding partners, including the Raymond and Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation and many other generous donors. They are all the definition of a Tzadik, a righteous person.

There are more than 38,400 Survivors living and aging in the United States – and more than 30% of them live below the poverty line. They have lived through more trauma and discrimination than anyone can possibly understand. It is our responsibility to help provide them with dignity and respect in the eldest years of their lives. During Amy and John’s visit, our social workers shared that this partnership is like manna from heaven for our Survivors. “They are able to ask for help without shame.”

Throughout our visit, Amy and John shared how they fell into this work. John is a professional photographer. While photographing one Survivor, she opened her refrigerator to offer them something to eat and drink. It was very clear that her pantry and refrigerator were empty. She further explained that the past month had been difficult because she needed to replace her air conditioner and didn’t have enough money for food. Since she had been hungry before during her years in Germany, she opted to fix the air conditioner and wait until the following month for food. John and Amy said, “This is unacceptable, and we have to do something about it.” And so KAVOD SHEF was born.

As I reflect on Amy and John’s visit, I can’t put into words how impressed I was with their leadership and commitment: they saw a need and decided to fix it! It seems there was no obstacle too large and no concern too great to stop them. They forged ahead and became a force of change and a catalyst of philanthropy. They ignited the good in people and challenged everyone around them to make a difference.

There are no words to express the gratitude that I have for Amy and John’s vision and hard work. KAVOD SHEF and Seed the Dream are heroes to thousands of Survivors throughout our country. They say, “those who save one life, save the world entire.” Amy and John have indeed saved worlds through their hard work and leadership!

Wishing you all peace and love on this Shabbat and every day,

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