I recently attended the annual Agudah convention, as I have many times in the past. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19, so when I heard this year’s event was back on, I was excited to attend. I’ve always enjoyed it because the energy is transferable, the speakers are inspiring, and it gives us great chizuk to be in close proximity to and hear from our Gedolei Yisrael. The attendees are people who care about Yiddishkeit and are involved in their communities. Many take initiatives to influence change or create new initiatives to help the klal. Great programs were inspired by the convention including the Shuvu school system in Israel and the Rebbe Initiative, which helps rebbeim with extra funds for Yom Tov and simchos.
I met R’ Shmuel Lefkowitz many years ago at the convention. R’ Shmuel told me that we need more young people to advocate in Albany on behalf of the community and not only invited me to join him, which I did, but also helped the JCC put together our own JCC mission to Albany. The mission included 25 community members who spent a day in Albany speaking to our elected officials about issues that we felt were affecting the community and items we wanted to help with. I also brought my 12- and 14-year-old children to speak about children’s’ issues including funding for local schools and afterschool programs which allowed officials to hear things from a child’s perspective.
We as individuals can all do something to make a difference in our community and even outside of the community. We don’t have to be influential to do so, we just need the desire to influence change. Baruch Hashem, the JCC was able to help in many areas over the past 13 years with our lay leadership, and I encourage you to do the same. Coming to the convention energizes you to want to do that. I was always taught that you can be complacent, or you can be the person to help make a difference; it’s all up to you.
We just celebrated Chanukah, a time when so few made such a big difference. Let’s take our own initiative to do the same.