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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future



The Challenge

Jewish identity is vulnerable when young people begin to make relationship decisions that will guide their adult lives. The college and young-adult years may well be the last chance the Jewish community has to reach out to our youth as a group — to instill in them a strong sense of Jewish identity and connection to community and tradition. 

In Pittsburgh, we have more than 3,000 Jewish undergraduate students on our campuses. For many, this is a first foray into a world of new people and new ideas, a world of tremendous freedoms and lim­ited influence from parents. It is a time, for most stu­dents, when they ironically need the safety and secu­rity of a community and yet are far from the friends and family that once provided those comforts. For others, it is a first experience with the concept of Jewish community. And for all of them, it is the first time that they are being given the responsibility for creating a Jewish community for themselves.

The Solution

We have many programs that engage local young adults and university students in Jewish living and are already benefiting from CFJF funding. They include Taglit-Birthright Israel, which boasts impressive national statistics: 73% of partici­pants call their trip "life-changing" and participants are 57% more likely than their peers to marry Jews.

J'Burgh, a Hillel JUC program for 2,500 young adults ages 21 to 29, enables participants to create their own Jewish community and to access the wider Jew­ish community as their life circumstances change. CFJF has just provided funding to underwrite J-burgh to reach those who are transitioning from college to starting their own families.

With CFJF funding, programs such as this can continue to encourage lasting relationships within our Jewish community. It is imperative that we create Jewish options for graduate students and young profession­als in their twenties who now call Pittsburgh home and are considering how they may start their own families. We must provide opportunities for them to build a Jewish community together, to network socially and professionally.

Who Will It Be?

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Rivka goes to her rabbi for advice. "Rabbi," she says. "Both Abe and Sol are in love with me. Both want to marry me, and I have to pick...Who will the lucky one be?" The rabbi looked at her and replied, "Abe will marry you and Sol will be the lucky one.