CONNECT TO...SPOTLIGHT ON FRED REICHMAN

Fred Reichman, Sam Bliman, and Bob Grossweiner (left to right) volunteering with City Harvest

Fred Reichman, Sam Bliman, and Bob Grossweiner (left to right) volunteering with City Harvest

Fred Reichman was one of the original members of the Engage Men's Group, which started approximately five years ago, and he enjoys the passionate volunteerism of the group.

When Fred joined the group, he looked forward to interacting socially with other men of a similar age, while doing good works for others throughout the city. The social aspect of the Men’s Group has included going out for dinner together, visits to a comedy club, going to movies and baseball games, and other activities.

Fred is very involved with the Engage Group’s Tech Soup program at JASA Club 76 every Friday. The program provides technical assistance to seniors who want to learn or improve their skills on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

In conjunction with other Men’s Group members, Fred has worked with New York Cares, a nonprofit agency that serves as a clearinghouse for volunteering at various events, such as at the Javits Center Fancy Food shows, where he is involved with sorting and labeling kosher products for distribution to many organizations around the city. New York Cares also provides lunches and interacts with people in need in other ways, including planting seeds at Wards Island for their residential community.

Devoted to meditation, Fred has been a participant in JCC's Makom Havurah group for four or five years as well. The group meets twice a month for two hours, from October through May, combining meditation and discussion to explore many meaningful subjects. He also attends Makom's daily meditation sessions once or twice a week at the JCC.

As if all of these activities were not more than enough, Fred also volunteers as a tour guide one day a week at the American Museum of Natural History. As a kid, Fred loved going to the museum with his father and brother, especially to see the dinosaurs and the Hayden Planetarium. The original Art Deco-style planetarium and its very special dome were torn down to make room for the much larger Rose Center for Earth and Space, which opened to the public in February 2000. It was the beauty and functionality of this new Rose Center that ignited Fred’s interest in training to become a tour guide, which he did in 2001. Fred’s tours usually cover four or five of the 45 exhibition halls in the museum. As Fred says to the visitors on his tours, “You would have to spend a week with me if you wanted to see all the highlights in the museum.”

Before retiring, Dr. Fred worked as a school psychologist in the public school system and with adolescents and adults in a private practice.

Clearly, Fred Reichman is a person who loves being involved in endeavors of great value to others, especially those in need.

CONNECT TO...SHADOWS FROM MY PAST

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Gita Weinrauch Kaufman discovered a packet of family letters written to her parents by relatives stranded in Europe in the years leading up to World War II, stacked in a drawer in their apartment. The voices from those letters come hauntingly to life through Kaufman's narrative captured in Shadows From My Past, the documentary she created with her husband, Curt. The film includes interviews with prominent figures such as Kurt Waldheim, Ronald Lauder, and Simon Wiesenthal.

The film was showcased at the Engage Women’s Group program in January, which was attended by over 40 participants. A lively talkback with Ms. Kaufman led to a group discussion that focused on the relevancy of the of the past in light of today’s current events.  

The program was one example of how the Engage Women's Group engages its members. If you want to learn about other upcoming events and opportunities, read the article by Rena Solomon about what is coming in the near future.

CONNECT TO...BROOKYN BEAT: NOURISHING THE MIND + BODY

Joan Kaplan, Brooklyn volunteer, peeling carrots at Masbia food pantry

Joan Kaplan, Brooklyn volunteer, peeling carrots at Masbia food pantry

Maybe it was seeing all the new faces and welcoming the familiar ones or maybe it was the tempting array of lox and bagels, but the atmosphere on January 22 at the Learn About Engage Brooklyn brunch was decidedly festive and charged with anticipation of the program to come.

“There was a wonderful spirit,” said Elaine Gould, a member of the Engage Brooklyn Leadership Committee and of UJA's Caring Commission.  A group of 25 men and women, 18 of them new to Engage, came to hear about Engage programs from Engage members and representatives of partner agencies.  

Hedda Kafka shared her experience volunteering with the English Speakers Union in partnership with HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Through her heartfelt description of her relationship as an English language tutor to a refugee from Colombia, she conveyed to the audience why she found her involvement so rewarding.

Bob Friedlander, another Engage volunteer, explained the emotional component of his work at Selfhelp Community Services and Masbia Soup Kitchen. “Preparing and serving food is just one aspect of the work,” he said. By spending time with Holocaust survivors through Selfhelp or with people coming for a meal at Masbia, volunteers provide support for those in need of a good meal, companionship, or emotional support. “I felt I had something to offer,” Friedlander says. “I have an obligation to give back and make the world a better place.”

Representatives from Reading Partners and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty joined the other presenters giving an overview of the volunteer opportunities at their agencies.  

The enthusiastic response of Engage members old and new was obvious. There was a sense of interest and energy in the room as questions were asked and people made their way to the sign-up sheets posted around the room, ensuring people would be notified of activities they were interested in. One look at the long list of names on the volunteer sheets and it was clear the Learn About Engage Brooklyn brunch was a huge success.