When Seattle native Marci Chentow was a kid, she never thought of living in Israel, let alone being an international relations associate of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
“Did I know then where I would end up? Absolutely no,” she said in a recent interview, during a visit to Seattle.
But, as she grew older, she got involved with social action programs at Roosevelt High School and her youth group at Temple B’nai Torah. She did her graduate thesis on immigrant education and earned her masters degree at Hebrew University. And it was after her involvement with the youth movement that she knew she wanted to work in a job helping others. After earning her masters, friends referred her to the JDC and now, at age 30, she’s been there for eight years.
“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “It’s just a real treat.” She said that it’s nice to get up in the morning and want to go to work.
Chentow often travels to the Soviet Union to see what’s happening with Jewish communities over there and helps bridge the gap between parents and children. She works with missions, Jewish federations and donors on partnerships relating to the former Soviet Union and Israel. She met Barry Goren, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, at a solidarity mission.
“The travel’s interesting,” said Chentow. “The feeling that the work I do is important, it’s significant.” But, because of Chentow’s busy schedule, she’s only able to make it to Seattle to visit her family about once a year. She said it’s hard for her parents and for her. “What can you do? Life’s interesting,” said Chentow. “Better that than boring.”
Chentow visited Seattle July 6–15. When she left on the morning of July 15, she headed to Indianapolis, Ind., then returned to Israel.
For 86 years, the JDC has been serving as the overseas arm of the American Jewish community, sponsoring programs of relief, rescue and reconstruction and fulfilling its commitment to the idea that all Jews are responsible for one another. The JDC provides life-sustaining assistance to elderly and infirm Holocaust survivors as it continues to help young and old renew their Jewish heritage.