Choosing Jewish

A Message from Arlene Miller 
President & CEO
Jewish Federation & Family Services

June 14, 2019

Dear Friend,

The weather is finally starting to warm up, school is out, and summer is here! For me and my kids, summer brings with it a lot of fun, but also a lot of decisions. How will we spend our vacation time? Where should we go? Sleep-away camp or day camp? Soccer camp or Jewish camp? So many choices. As adults, we understand the powerful impact our choices can have, especially our choices about how we live Jewishly.
This past weekend was the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, a time at which the Israelites first chose to live as Jews. On Shavuot, we read the biblical Book of Ruth. Ruth is a Moabite woman who, after her husband dies, chooses to stay with her Israelite mother-in-law and become part of the Jewish people. This story is as relevant today as ever; with so many secular demands on our lives, in some ways we are all Jews by Choice, making important decisions every day in the ways we bring Judaism and Jewish community into our lives.
One of the roles I cherish in leading Jewish Federation & Family Services is giving families with children and young adults opportunities to live Jewishly and to connect to Jewish community. One very special opportunity for young adults is Honeymoon Israel, a trip to Israel for couples just starting their lives together. Through Honeymoon Israel, we help young couples with at least one Jewish partner connect to Israel and build a Jewish community they can rely on when they return home and as they start their families.
The first JFFS Honeymoon Israel trip took place this past March with 20 young couples from Orange County. One of the couples shared that, as a result of the trip, “we feel more connected to Judaism than ever, and we are excited for the next steps we will take together, and when starting a family.” You can see other participants’ enthusiastic reactions here. Applications just opened for the JFFS February 2020 Honeymoon Israel trip. You can learn more about the trip here; applications close on July 22.  Make sure to spread the word!
Every day, we make all sorts of choices in our lives, for ourselves and for our children. Choices can be easy (let’s have pizza for dinner!), they can be more complicated (which relative should we spend Passover with?), or they can change the course of our lives. I am proud that JFFS is able to provide opportunities for OC’s next generation to choose to live Jewishly.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arlene Miller