By Jonny Basha
The federation has been a part of my life for many years. Growing up here in the Valley, I was involved with several local organizations that were supported through the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.
As a kid, I attended Hebrew school and attended weekly services at local synagogues with my family.
In high school, I was in chess club and band as first chair clarinet. I also created games and programs on my TI-83 calculator. To my surprise, I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. Joining Hebrew High and BBYO changed that.
Through these federation-funded programs, I learned a great deal about organizational leadership, and what I learned shaped my outlook on life. Both organizations were instrumental to my development as a soon-to-be young adult. I made some of my best friends in these programs, and I am still close to many of them today.
While attending Arizona State University, I could not wait to visit Israel through Taglit-Birthright. When I returned, I knew that Jewish leadership was going to play an important role in my life. I spent most of my college years involved with several campus groups like Chabad, Hillel, JAC and Sigma Alpha Mu, a Jewish fraternity.
After graduating, I started Moishe House Phoenix with some of those best friends I mentioned earlier. Moishe House Phoenix was extremely successful, and within the year we were hosting 10 events a month. Hundreds of Jewish young professionals attended.
Last year, a group of us had the idea to form a giving circle. Though we were young and not yet established in our careers, we knew that we wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the vibrancy of our Jewish community and Jewish communities throughout the world. The federation helped us establish ourselves as a professional organization, and I am proud to say that the NOWGen Giving Circle made its inaugural grants this past August.
I realize that I am thriving primarily because of the amazing leadership and generosity of our community. Our federation established the infrastructure for young adults like me to accomplish the things that I have accomplished. Even today, it provides matching grants, leadership stipends and support of all kinds to the people who need it in our community and abroad.
Federation has been part of my life since I was in grade school, and it shaped who I am today. Through its dedicated commitment, our federation has helped develop an amazing generation of young adults to step up into the leadership roles that our community needs, and that is inspiring to me.
Jonny Basha is a federation board member and resident of Moishe House.