New Year’s Means New Beginnings

By Steven Schauder

I’m deeply honored to be the new Executive Director for Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg. I’m proud to be part of such an important agency with a distinguished history and I’m very happy to have joined this very welcoming community. I moved here from Florida in October and the only real trade off I feel I’ve made is trading the warmth of the weather in Florida for the warmth and kindness of the people who I have met (mostly virtually) since my move. I look forward to getting to know so many of you, so that together, we can build a more vibrant Jewish and broad community and help people who come to us for help achieve health, wholeness and stability.

A New Year carries both consideration for the year that was and anticipation for the year that will be. 2020 challenged all of us in unprecedented ways and hopefully, we have found reservoirs of appreciation and gratitude that we had not previously been aware of. I know that I am deeply grateful for all of the blessings in my life.

  • I’m grateful to have a loving family including happy, healthy children who I adore—and that includes my daughter-in-law;
  • I’m grateful to have come to the JFS of Harrisburg and be an agent of change in this community;
  • I’m grateful to the Board of JFS who helped steer this agency during Barry Stein’s illness and subsequent retirement; and,
  • I’m grateful to Barry Stein for miraculously recovering form COVID-19 and for making himself so available to me to help me jump right into to my new responsibilities;
  • I’m grateful to Jennifer Ross, CEO of our Jewish Federation, Paulette Keifer, Executive Director for our Jewish Community Foundation of Central PA, Allen Geckle, CEO of The Campus of the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg, our community rabbis and all of the leaders in town who have been so warm and welcoming to me since I arrived;
  • I am deeply grateful to all of the volunteers and donors who support and sustain JFS. A few weeks ago, we put out a call for food as our food pantry had become depleted. This is just some of the food that has been donated, including a sizable donation from the students of The Silver Academy. Your donations do so much to bring hope to so many members of this community;
  • Lastly, I am grateful to the amazing staff of JFS who work tirelessly each day to help children find loving families through adoption and foster care; homebound seniors receive fresh, healthy and nutritious meals through the Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels Program; struggling individuals receive financial assistance and case management through Project Lift and the Back on Track Initiative, hungry people have access to food through our food pantry; and, adults, families and children receive the highest quality professional mental health counseling.

In Fiddler on the Roof, the townspeople surround the Rabbi and ask him if there is a blessing for the Tsar. “Of course,” he answers, “May the Lord keep the Tsar far away from us.” I have the same blessing for 2020—may it recede very quickly in our rear-view mirrors and may 2021 be a year of health, kindness, and fellowship where we are constantly aware of the good things in our lives and open to making the world a better place for others.