The Challenges of Our New Reality
There are new questions and new realities we find ourselves grappling with today. During these difficult times we are questioning what happens to perspective when we’re living through what feels like an endless alternative reality? After so many weeks of shutdown, it becomes more and more difficult to get our arms around how things will work, how they’ll look and feel when this crisis is over. How many will we have lost? How deep will the economic fallout be? Will the nature of community and the way it functions have changed? The answers seem far away. In the Jewish communal world, nearer at hand are decisions that need to be made about how to serve those most in need, about layoffs and furloughs, about whether or when summer activities open. So many unknowns. So much unfamiliar ground. So much to think about.
Our responsibilities, however, oblige us to do more. To broaden our frame of reference. To focus on the inevitable post-crisis period to come. As a Federation we have played a critical part in building and strengthening Jewish life. For decades we provided a warm and welcoming recreational setting for Jews and Jewish families unwelcome elsewhere. We have served a critical, complementary role alongside synagogues and other Jewish institutions. We have become a gateway to everything else the Jewish community has to offer; the one place in which every demographic in the community can be readily found participating together.
The North American Jewish community has evolved an extraordinary philanthropic tradition, having created perhaps the most expansive Jewish communal infrastructure in the history of the Diaspora. Much of this organizational infrastructure is dependent, on an ongoing basis, on continued fundraising and philanthropic support.
We need to be the most prolific platform for Jewish engagement and demonstrate unique, invaluable, and ongoing importance to the continuing development of Jewish community and Jewish life long after COVID-19 recedes into memory.
Our responsibilities, as leaders, and as a Jewish community are immediate and timeless. Yes, we need to make hard choices now about how to endure the current challenges. And we’ll need to adjust our operations once we re-open in deference to the economic realities we will confront. But our mission isn’t defined in weeks, months, or even years. Our mission is to strengthen Jewish community and enrich Jewish life. It’s a mission we inherited from those who preceded us and for which we bear a sacred and profound responsibility.
We’ll find our way through the challenges of this crisis in the short term....and then we’ll resume our march forward, with renewed determination with a more vibrant, more dedicated Jewish community.
Our best days lie ahead.
Chief Executive Officer