Super Tzedakah Week – Building a Stronger Berkshire Jewish Community

Super Tzedakah Week, Federation’s kickoff to Community Campaign 2021, is May 23-28

As part of the campaign kickoff, Federation will host two exciting events on May 23. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., community members of all ages can “Get the Scoop” at our socially distanced Jewish Community Day at High Lawn Farms in Lee. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., families can make their mark with Mitzvah Madness LIVE!, virtually presented by mainstages educational theater group.

In addition, community members are encouraged to participate in Federation’s Dignity Drive to collect feminine hygiene and incontinence products that will be distributed to Berkshire community members at local food banks and social service agencies.

This year, we may not be calling, but we are asking – PLEASE DONATE!  

For over 80 years, the Federation’s annual campaign has sustained our Jewish Berkshires and provided the resources to care for those in need and ensure a safe and strong Jewish community for all.  Never was that more evident than this past year when Federation quickly shifted to meet our community’s changing needs presented by the unfolding pandemic.

With your generous support, Federation stepped in to provide emergency grants for food, rent, utilities, and burial support for individuals in our Jewish community. Additional grants were provided to Berkshire food pantries and other organizations to support critical needs of our friends and neighbors across the region.

From increasing social services, expanding meal deliveries, to creating a volunteer support corps and offering virtual and outdoor programming for all ages to connect and learn – Federation provided the leadership and safety net our community needed in this time of crisis.

This year has shown us that we truly are stronger together and that we are all responsible for one another. Our founders created the Jewish Federation precisely so that we have the infrastructure in place to respond to unforeseen crises. And it is because of the generosity of each of you that we will be ready for whatever comes next.

Our 2021 campaign goal is $1 million. Your gift to the Jewish Federation’s 2021 campaign – whatever it is you can give – will help bring dignity and care to the vulnerable and elderly, build and strengthen the Jewish identity of our children and young adults, and support vital programs and services across the Berkshires, in Israel, and the wider Jewish world. 

“Super Tzedakah Week gives our donors, volunteers, and community members the powerful opportunity to come together to make a real and lasting difference,” says incoming Federation president, Elisa Schindler Frankel. “Your collective generosity will help us to take care of our entire community, ensuring that those who are at their most vulnerable can live with dignity and keeping our Jewish community strong and vibrant. Every gift counts!” 

As our community begins to emerge from and (we hope) move beyond the pandemic, your support is needed more now than ever. Please help us kick off our 2021 Community Campaign by making your gift or pledge during Super Tzedakah Week. Thank you for making a difference!

Our Super Tzedakah Week Chairs – The Dresner Family

Natasha, Avi, Lev, and Sasha Dresner of Pittsfield – who have long been some of Federation’s most active and dedicated volunteers – have this year stepped up as chairs of Super Tzedakah Week. They’ll be reaching out to our congregations to relate their experience of Federation and to share their thoughts about getting involved and how to give back to this Jewish community.

Natasha, originally from Kiev, Ukraine, is a nonprofit consultant, mentor, and director of the Leadership Engagement & Advancement Program (LEAP) for JCamp 180 at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.  Avi is a self-employed personal trainer and writer who served in the Israel Defense Force and has served as co-chair of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire’s Berkshire Jewish Festival of Books.  

Lev is a fourth-grader who enjoys Tae Kwon Do and spending every spare moment reading. His brother, Sasha, is a gymnast in second grade and is also arguably the world’s foremost expert on the 1970s Russian film version of The Three Musketeers. Lev and Sasha are among the young people whose Jewish education and development have been supported by Federation’s investment in PJ Library, local Hebrew schools, camp scholarships, and fun family-friendly programming exploring Jewish values and traditions.

“There are countless examples of Federation’s work to help those in need,” writes Avi. “However, what these countless examples all have in common is Federation’s ability to count on you as much as you count on it.”

For more on the Dresners and what inspires them to give back to the community through the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, please see the In My View column written by Avi.

Do a Mitzvah – Support Federation’s Dignity Drive, May 1- 28

Menstrual and incontinence poverty is a real but often unseen and overlooked need, especially during difficult times as so many are experiencing right now. You can bring dignity to a neighbor in need by dropping off new, packaged menstrual and incontinence products at the following locations between May 1-28.

  • The Berkshire Food Co-op, Great Barrington
  • Concepts of Art, Lenox
  • Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Pittsfield
  • Williams College Bookstore, Williamstown

Federation volunteers will be collecting the donations on a weekly basis and organizing them to be distributed through local food banks and social services organizations across the region. 

Connect – Fun for All Ages on Sunday, May 23

Check out these opportunities to come together and celebrate the blessings of Jewish community.

Get the Scoop… Jewish Community Day from 1 to 3 p.m. at High Lawn Farm (535 Summer Street in Lee). We’re kicking off our community campaign with free homemade ice cream and fun for ages 0-99! Explore the farm, meet the cows, check out the artisanal cheese shop, and learn the history of this Berkshire gem, all in a socially distanced outdoor setting.  Small socially distanced guided tours of the open-air barns, on-demand milking stations, and historical exhibits will be offered, as well as a mitzvah-themed storytime, farm crafts, and hula hoop fun for the young and young-at-heart. Masks, social distancing, and safety protocols will be strictly enforced. Rain date: June 6.

Mitzvah Madness LIVE! at 5 p.m. via Zoom. Grab the kids and grandkids to explore all the ways your family can make the world a better place. This virtual but interactive program with mainstages theater will stretch their imaginations and get their bodies moving. PJ Library families will receive an at-home mitzvah project, as well! This program is fun for parents, grandparents, and children together!

Register for these events at

Photo: The Dresner family – Avi and Natasha, with Sasha (seated left, with Agatha) and Lev (holding Ruth)