In every community, people expect certain rights as well as obligations. In civil societies, people expect good government and public schools, well-maintained highways and parks and responsive police and fire departments. Citizens’ obligations include being good and law abiding and, of course, paying taxes in order to support the services provided by government.
In the Jewish community, there are no taxes. Services provided by the Jewish Federation of Howard County, for instance, are underwritten by the generous contributions of the members of our community who continually step forward to ensure that the Jewish community has the funds not just to survive, but to thrive.
As a young lawyer, I began my career as an assistant state’s attorney with a modest income and a growing family. As a result, I was unable to donate any sizable sum to support the Jewish community of Howard County. But because of the nature of my job, I had time. I was home every night around 6, and I did not need to engage in evening phone conversations with clients. I was able to spend at least one evening per week using my time to raise funds for those in need, to volunteer on projects and otherwise to perform tikkun olam.
Now as an attorney in my own firm, I not only give my time to the Jewish community, but I also make a meaningful gift to the Federation’s annual campaign. However, I don’t stop there — because I know that doing good is also good for business. My firm, Shapiro & Mack, has sponsored numerous events and programs provided by the Jewish Federation of Howard County, everything from the spring gala “Federation Live!” to a movie night screening of “Follow Me — The Yoni Netanyahu Story.” I do this because I recognize that it is important to be a leader in our community.
The continuity of the Jewish people for several millennia just didn’t happen. It occurred because some members of our community stepped forward, holding themselves out as leaders and examples to others — in word and, most importantly, in deed.
As campaign chair, I envisioned a way for other businesses in Howard County to donate to the federation. We put together a corporate sponsorship program called StepTogether. It’s another way for members of the greater community to gain exposure and connect to a thriving Jewish community of more than 20,000 people.
The good work that the Federation performs in our own community, in Israel and throughout the world is undeniable. The more money that the federation raises, the more lives it can positively enhance. This new business sponsorship program, StepTogether, recognizes businesses that help fund the federation’s mission and is a call to action allowing our community to support those businesses that allow the federation to serve the Jewish people.
Jason A. Shapiro is campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Howard County.