September 23, 2020: a day that just might go down in Buffalo Jewish Federation history. Filled with Seinfeld impersonations, card tricks, tear jerkers and more, the 2021 Campaign for Jewish Buffalo Virtual Kick Off Event made us feel anything but distant from one another.
The event began with greetings from past kick off speaker Alina Spaulding, bestselling author Bruce Feiler (who was supposed to keynote this year’s in person event) and comedy-writer/author Alan Zweibel. Each guest highlighted the warmth of Buffalo, how much they value the work of Federation and urged everyone to support the campaign.
The festivities continued with a spotlight on PJ Library featuring the Strang family who shared some of their favorite PJ Library memories, such as the interactive games and the bonus books that PJ Library sends, including a Jewish cookbook. Alyssa, her two kids and her mom Sharon then created apple-honey cupcake from the cookbook. Perfect for the High Holidays!
Next we heard from the leader of our Partnership2gether Program in the Western, Galilee, Sharon Chait. She expressed appreciation for all that the Buffalo community has brought to the partnership, and then brought us beautiful wishes and voices of students from the Arepa Elementary School. It goes to show that even on the other side of the world, the power of the Buffalo Jewish Community is strong.
The Buffalo side of the world is doing alright too! After we heard from the kids, participants of Nickel City Jews shared how the Jewish Federation has impacted their lives. They too made an impassioned ask of those watching to support the campaign which helps to power Nickel City Jews.
The event then took a magical turn with an interactive card trick from magician Garrett Thomas. Be sure to check it out and follow along to see the amazement for yourself. It works every time!
We next learned the story of Valentino Dixon, an artist from Buffalo who was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Beautifully facilitated by Hannah Gabelnick, Dixon spoke of how vital criminal justice reform is, and how we can all get involved. “Think of something you can do that can have an impact on making the inner city better,” Dixon said.
The evening concluded with a stirring rendition of “Seasons of Love” by the talented and Buffalo bred New York City performer, Cheryl Stern. Accompanied by scenes highlighting the ways in which Jewish Buffalonians are making the community a better place, it was the perfect way to close off the evening.
While having the event virtually was not what anyone expected, the variety of passionate voices we were able to hear showed that no matter where you are, the sentiment of community is alive and well, inspite of the pandemic.
If you haven’t seen the event yet, or want to watch it again, be sure to check it out here. And of course, if you are able, please consider making a contribution to the 2021 Campaign that powers Jewish Buffalo. Follow the link here to make your contribution online call Randi Morkisz at 716-628-3431.
It is because of you that makes Jewish Buffalo so vibrant, caring and connected.
Many thanks to Leah Kramer, Buffalo Jewish Federation Intern, for contributing today’s Spotlight.