This is a guest blog post by Rahna Barthelmess, Director of Marketing for Jewish Federation of St. Louis
It was a hurried morning, getting everyone up and off to school while trying to finish preparations for my first trip to Israel. My 13-year-old daughter Brittany came in and asked, “So, where are you going first?” She knew this was a business trip for me to attend the General Assembly and to see the various agencies we support, but she also understood that I would do a little sightseeing on my own whenever I could. Distractedly, I explained, “I’m going to visit a home for children who can’t stay with their parents; it’s like a foster home for some Israeli kids.” She left the room, and I continued contemplating how I would keep my suitcase under the airline’s mandatory 50-pound weight limit. She returned carrying her most cherished stuffed animal, a Bunny named Crystal. “Why don’t you give them this?” The gesture stopped me in my tracks. This super-soft bunny had been a present for her tenth birthday. “Are you sure?” I asked. She nodded, smoothing the bunny’s fur and repositioning the bows on floppy ears. “They need it more than I do,” she said simply.
As I sit on the plane contemplating the week ahead, I realize that Brittany’s gift is really indicative of what philanthropy really is: giving of yourself to those whose need is greater than your own.
That’s the work we are really engaged in; that’s our real job. As an official representative of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, I’ll have the privilege of visiting Orr Shalom, an agency that cares for displaced children in Jerusalem. I have other gifts to bring these children as well: bracelets made by the Women’s Philanthropy group in St. Louis. But what I’m really bringing is so much more: a spirit of giving that travels across the globe from St. Louis to Israel, meeting needs in so many different ways.
That’s the work of Federation.