JCRS Success Story: Aaron Friedman
August 12th, 2010 •
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Aaron Friedman is an organizational consultant who works in Dallas and previously worked as a press officer for the Israeli Consulate in Houston. The Dallas native received both camp and college aid from JCRS.
Aaron says the help he received from JCRS sparked a domino effect in his life – deepening his connection with his religion, with Israel, and with Zionism.
As a single mom, Aaron’s mother Anita says she never hid her financial situation from Aaron while he was growing up. But like most kids, Aaron wasn’t really aware of what it actually took to raise a family. Now, at age 24, Aaron can better appreciate the limitations financial constraints can place on one’s dreams and goals. He says the help he received from JCRS for summer camp and college meant that finances didn’t have to be a limiting factor in the life of a boy discovering his Jewish identity.
With camp scholarships from JCRS, Aaron was able to spend summers at Camp Young Judea in Wimberley, Texas and then Camp Tel Yehuda in New York. From there, he went on a Birthright Israel after high school.
When asked how his life might be different if he’d never been able to attend Jewish summer camp, Aaron thoughtfully replied, “I might not have a lot of the friends I still have now. If I hadn’t gone to Camp Judea, I wouldn’t have met the people who pushed me to go on Birthright Israel, where I had my “Ah ha” moment – and really started down the path that I’m now on. The first domino was Camp Young Judea.”
Anita adds this about summer camp: “Living Judaism and Zionism every single day, in a fun way, with friends, doing things outdoors; it becomes a part of them. I don’t know where Aaron would be without camp, but I’m not sure he’d have the same connection to Israel.” She then muses, “You do what you can as a parent, and sending him to camp was one of those things a parent can do to hopefully create some positive influences that will stay with your child.”
When it came time to pay for college tuition, JCRS was there for Anita and Aaron again. Asked if the financial assistance from JCRS made things easier for her, Anita acknowledges, “Absolutely, I don’t know how I would have done it without it.” While in college, Aaron helped revive a Jewish fraternity, got involved in Hillel, and went to as many Jewish conferences and retreats as he could. It was one of his final college papers that got him an interview for the Israeli consulate press offer position he now proudly holds in Houston.
“I never thought about it too much,” says Aaron, “but you never know what a small investment in a child can lead to – and if it tips that first domino, you never know where that last one will fall. For someone young, the smallest experience can have a great impact on the direction they go and the impact it has on their life.”
Vulnerable children and youth can grow up to become fulfilled, independent adults through the loving kindness and generous support of people like you. Make a difference in the life of someone like Aaron Friedman, and see how they blossom. Donate to the JCRS Camp Scholarship Aid Program, or give to the individual program that inspires you most.