Suellen Kadis said she has learned a lot about herself through her volunteer work and philanthropy. Time and again she has chosen to give back to communities local, national, and international.
Kadis’ introduction to Jewish volunteering and communal service was through ORT, where she began to tie her lifelong love of education to her Jewish values.
She said ORT’s mission, helping people through training and education to achieve self-sufficiency, was a guiding principle in her family and something she always valued growing up.
“My mother and father always talked about education as the key to opportunity,” she said. “That’s what drew me to ORT.”
“We have a great Jewish community and a strong Jewish Federation,” Kadis said. “I’ve had opportunities to grow and learn, which enabled me to take on new responsibilities.”
Kadis’ involvement in a cause starts when she sees a need in the community and believes she has something to offer, she said. She credits her analytical and listening skills, learned from training as an attorney, for a lot of her success as a volunteer.
“I come prepared to meetings and listen to what others have to say,” she said. “I try to add value when I’m involved.”
“When I take on a job, I follow through, always keeping the goals of the organization in mind. The professional staff and other lay leaders are keys to success in all community efforts. Devoting time and energy has enriched my life, and hopefully benefitted the organizations I am passionate about.”
Despite everything Kadis does in the community, she admits there’s still more she wishes she could do to give back and face the challenges she sees ahead.
One of the joys that arose out of Kadis’ community involvement was becoming a bat mitzvah at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation four years ago. “The opportunity to read Torah and share a D’var Torah, as an adult, in front of our community, my friends and family, was truly a special moment for me.
“As far as obstacles to surpass, I worry about the next generation being involved and having meaningful connections to the State of Israel. Through travel to Jewish communities around the world, I’ve had the opportunity to realize we are one Jewish people and responsible for one other. The strength of the Jewish people and our leadership can be seen in our community, and I wonder if the next generation will take on those important leadership roles.”
As she encourages others, and particularly young people, to engage their community as she has, Kadis suggests finding an issue or an organization that they are passionate about.
“If you show interest and volunteer your time, you’ll enrich your own life as well as the causes you take on,” she said. “And you really just have to stay with it, and offer your time, your talent and your treasure.”
– Ed Carroll