Annual Report 2021

Towards a Vibrant Jewish Future:
Empowering Our Greater Washington Community

Annual Report 2021

A Message from Our President and CEO

Photo of Samuel Kaplan

Samuel Kaplan

Photo of Gil Preuss

Gil Preuss, PhD


Over the past year, our Greater Washington Jewish community remained strong, resilient, and compassionate. As our needs evolved, and in the face of significant challenges, Federation and our committed, generous donors worked diligently to address the most pressing issues. Today, our dedication to doing so remains crucial to our mission.

Before the pandemic began, many in our community faced financial hardships. When COVID-19 exacerbated these challenges, hundreds of donors ensured our work continued uninterrupted, and Federation and our partners mobilized millions of dollars to provide emergency funds, scholarships, and financial aid for individuals and families. Together, we ensured our community stayed connected and Jewishly engaged. We built on every opportunity to grow and come out even stronger.

We look forward to continuing this momentum. As you’ll find throughout our digital Annual Report, in 2021, we welcomed a new partner agency; invested in innovative projects and collaborations locally and abroad; deepened our communal connections with Israel and global Jewry; fostered current and emerging leaders in their learning and growth; and more.

We know you will find inspiration in all we’ve accomplished together and encouragement in all that’s still to come. And as we move forward, we welcome your feedback and ideas! Please share your thoughts with us here.

Thank you for all you do to care for, build, and enhance Jewish Greater Washington.

Samuel Kaplan Signature

Samuel Kaplan

Gil Preuss Signature

Gil Preuss, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

Our Mission

To inspire, build, and sustain vibrant Jewish life in a changing world by mobilizing our community in common purpose, intentional innovation, and effective action.

Vision for Our Community

An open, connected, and vibrant Jewish community that cares for each other, fosters Jewish learning and journeys, embraces Jewish peoplehood and Israel, and acts as a force for good in the world.

Table of Contents

Photo: Aryeh Schwartz

Federation’s Role

Federation’s distinct vantage point empowers us to identify the most pressing issues facing our community and mobilize community builders, philanthropists, leaders, and resources to address them.

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We are the only organization with the capacity, scope, and mandate to advance our community by seizing opportunities for growth. 

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By forging meaningful connections and collaborative partnerships, we unite local leaders and organizations to pursue a shared vision and meet our community’s needs.

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As our community emerges from the pandemic and begins to collectively reimagine a vibrant Jewish future, Federation’s work has never been more important.


Sustaining Vibrant Jewish Life

In partnership with community builders across our region, Federation is working to address the most pressing issues facing our community today. We are meeting evolving human service needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering learning and engagement opportunities for people of all ages, and ensuring the continued safety and capacity of our local Jewish institutions.

We are prioritizing efforts and investments in:

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Meeting Individual & Family Needs

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Ensuring the Success and Resilience of Jewish Communal Organizations

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Deepening Jewish Learning & Journeys

Photo: Audrey Rothstein Photography (

Meeting Individual & Family Needs

Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 6,000 Jewish households in Greater Washington anticipated being unable to pay for an emergency $400 expense.* COVID-19 exacerbated the needs of those already struggling. Federation’s unique role positioned us to drive an overarching, cross-communal effort to meet these needs.
*Data from the 2017 Greater Washington Jewish Community Demographic Study, funded by The Morningstar Foundation.

We rapidly mobilized leaders, donors, organizations, and resources to meet essential and evolving needs.

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$6+ million was raised for COVID-19 emergency relief and to meet ongoing human service needs.

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40% of our COVID-19 relief funding has helped individuals and families with rent and mortgage payments and 33% towards food assistance.

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1,500 people across 78 DC, MD, and Northern VA zip codes accessed emergency assistance.

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280+ callers across DC, MD, and Northern VA have been connected with vital resources through 703-J-CARING: the Jewish Community Support Line.

Our Collective Response to COVID-19

By August 2020, nearly 900 donors contributed more than $4.4 million for COVID-19 relief and human service needs. In December 2020, a generous matching grant from The Jewish Federations of North America and several national foundations unlocked matching funds that, when combined with additional local donors, added more than $1.6 million to our human service fund to help us support our community.

Combating Poverty for the Long-Term

In collaboration with our partners and leaders across our community, Federation is addressing the needs exacerbated by COVID-19 in the short term and further developing a comprehensive and integrated anti-poverty initiative for the long term. While the issue presents an enormous challenge, the journeys of individuals, families, and of the overall community out of poverty can be meaningfully shaped by our collective efforts.

“There’s a misconception that people in the DC area aren’t in need. COVID-19 has only widened the gap.”

—Jody Lee, Capital Area Food Bank

Photo: Capital Camps

Deepening Jewish Learning & Journeys

Jewish communal experiences cultivate and strengthen Jewish identity. Federation is committed to helping individuals and families access and opt into a rich diversity of local Jewish learning and identity-building experiences.

Investing in Jewish Education & Summer Camp

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More than $1.2 million in scholarships and financial aid is addressing pandemic-induced barriers to Jewish life and increase overall participation in early childhood education, day schools, and summer camps.

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In 2021, 600 local children received support from our community to attend Jewish summer camp, including through needs-based scholarships.

What it Means to Our Community

Investing in Future Leaders

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$606,400 in scholarships and financial aid, allocations, and previously unspent dollars from 2020 helped more children attend day and overnight camps in 2021, and deepened the 2021 grant pool for Federation’s One Happy Camper program.

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$235,800+ is empowering more families to send their children to one of our community’s 39 local Jewish Early Childhood Education Centers.

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$1.9 million in allocations, security funding, scholarships, and financial aid supports our region’s six Jewish day schools and helps more families send their children to identity-building programs.

Connecting Families with Young Children to Jewish Life

Federation and our partners ensure families with young children can connect with each other and with Jewish life in innovative and engaging ways.

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8,100 local children receive monthly PJ Library books, empowering their parents to celebrate and engage them in Jewish life, culture, and values.


215 parents across DC, MD, and NOVA met with JFamily Ambassadors, who welcomed and connected them to the Jewish community.

Grandparent reading to young girl and boy

Photo: PJ Library

“Your programming has helped me so much with Ellie during this difficult time. It was wonderful to see how much she enjoyed the arts & crafts and the online programs.”

—Celia B., PJ Library Grandparent

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Photo: Pozez JCC’s Growing Jewish Families

JFamily Ambassadors: Enriching Communal Connections

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Photo: Audrey Rothstein Photography (

Engaging Communal Leaders in Rich Jewish Learning

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Photo: The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Empowering Engaged and Philanthropic Young Leaders


Photo: Aryeh Schwartz

Investing in Resilient Communal Organizations

Federation’s communal partners serve thousands across 374 DC, MD, and Northern VA zip codes. In 2020-21, our community’s generosity empowered Federation to invest an incremental $1.86 million in emergency funding to help several vital organizations keep their doors open and our community connected during the pandemic—and beyond. And despite incredible challenges, our local institutions are innovating and collaborating to build vibrant Jewish life in Greater Washington.

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We continue to foster deep relationships with 60+ local congregations, spanning multiple denominations.

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Federation supports 57 local agencies across DC, MD, and Northern VA, and is the largest single donor to more than half of these organizations.

Convening Conversations, Fostering Innovation: The Vaccine Sign-Up Project

In addition to the millions of dollars Federation allocates to our partners annually, we facilitate regular conversations between local organizations and leaders to foster opportunities for listening and collaboration. One such dialogue resulted in the Vaccine Sign-up Support Project, a partnership between Edlavitch DCJCC and Hillel at The George Washington University, funded by Federation. The project engaged 395 tech-savvy college student volunteers to help 545 local seniors navigate the complexities of scheduling vaccination appointments.

Jill B. proudly displays her COVID-19 vaccination card after receiving help from The George Washington University student, Margarita B. (Photo: Edlavitch DCJCC)

“Volunteering with GW Hillel and the EDCJCC to register seniors for the COVID vaccine has been incredibly fulfilling and uplifting. I love knowing that once the appointment is booked, they are one step closer to hugging loved ones.”

—Margarita B.

Spotlight on Tzedek DC

The work of Tzedek DC, Federation’s newest partner agency, truly embodies the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world). Since 2015, and bolstered through Federation’s ConnectGens Fellowship, Tzedek DC has provided legal help for DC’s low-income families, seeing them through often life-altering problems arising from debt. 

“We are honored to be a Federation partner agency. The Jewish community’s support is integral to our efforts to increase access to justice for all.”

—Ariel Levinson-Waldman, Founding President and Director-Counsel, Tzedek DC


Securing Our Jewish Community

Every member of our community deserves to engage and participate safely in Jewish communal life. Through our partnership with Secure Community Network (SCN), Federation is prioritizing and enhancing Jewish Greater Washington’s safety, security, and preparedness.

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28 agencies across our Jewish community received assistance from Federation security experts in 2021 to access federal funding through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, designed to fund physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations at high risk of terrorist attacks.

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$3.5 million in federal security funding helped organizations across the Greater Washington Jewish community, an increase of more than 70% compared to 2020.

“The work Olam Tikvah has done with Federation and SCN, including security assessments for grants, has helped make our organization safer.”

—Rochelle Goldberg, Congregation Olam Tikvah

Photo: Guy Yechiely for The Jewish Agency for Israel

Our Global Impact: Israel & Overseas

Federation is dedicated to finding ways for our community to deepen our individual and collective relationships with Israel while also making space for our differences.

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An Urgent Response to Violence in Israel

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An Inspiring Rabbinic Mission to Israel


Prioritizing Shared Society

Federation is proud of our deep ties across Israel, including in Lod and other cities, where the work of building a shared society is both delicate and vital. When Federation’s Young Leadership met in mid-May 2021 for an online Flash Philanthropy giving circle, they awarded $50,000 to organizations working to build a more inclusive, equitable, and just society in Israel.


Reuniting Ethiopian Jewry in Israel

In 2021, 30 years after the first resettlement of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the needs of this community remain urgent. In partnership with a select group of generous donors, Federation raised and allocated $200,000 for this effort. Overseen by both The Jewish Agency for Israel and Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry, this critical funding is helping rescue, resettle, and reunify Ethiopian olim (immigrants to Israel) with family members who have already immigrated, as well as providing critical on-the-ground humanitarian relief for those still in Ethiopia as they await their Aliyah (move to Israel).

Photo: Olivier Fitoussi for The Jewish Agency for Israel

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Federation’s Israel
Task Force

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Deepening Communal Connection with Israel


Meeting Overseas Needs

In partnership with the JDC, Federation donors are addressing the needs of vulnerable Jewish populations in Israel and 70 countries around the globe. In 2020-21, Federation and our supporters played a role in helping over 185,000 Jews throughout Israel, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, and South America.

Photo: JDC

“I always helped the Jewish community when my parents were alive, leading Shabbat services, giving lectures, and working with the special programs for elderly Jews with dementia. Now, I’m the one who needs help, and I’m deeply grateful to all the volunteers for their constant support.”

—Yakov K., a Moldova resident benefiting from JDC programming

Photo: Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital

Impact in Action

In 2020 and 2021, Federation brought our community together to deepen our connections with one another, meet evolving needs, and support local Jewish communal organizations in our shared pursuit of building vibrant Jewish life. Flip through the slides below to explore just some of the ways we’ve kept Jewish Greater Washington engaged!

Regional Focus: JOINing Forces to Strengthen Jewish Life in Northern Virginia (NOVA)

In partnership with JOIN, the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network, Federation launched a grassroots initiative to welcome new NOVA voices from across the Jewish community. Coming together at “house meetings,” participants identify shared passion points and explore what it means to be part of a community and Jewish in NOVA. 91 community members from 30 NOVA zip codes participated in JOIN house meetings. Connections made through JOIN are leading to deeper relationships and collaborations that will ultimately benefit the larger Jewish community.

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Volunteers packing food in DC

Photo: Edlavitch DCJCC

Reimagining a Communal Drive to Do Good: Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Week

In 2021, driven by ongoing local needs, Federation reconfigured our annual Good Deeds Day into a full week focused on food insecurity. In April 2021, Federation united 60+ community partners and thousands of community members across DC, MD, and NOVA to fill the shelves of local food pantries to feed those who are hungry and make a difference. Watch WJLA’s coverage of Good Deeds Week.

“In the pandemic we’ve had a 30 percent increase in the number of families that have asked for help. There’s a saying among the community–heal the world–and this is one of the steps during Good Deeds Week that allows people to heal the world.”

—Mitchell Glassman, former Board Chair, Manna Food Center

Photo: Washington Talent

Looking Ahead: Building Communal Vibrancy

Federation is building vibrant Jewish life across Greater Washington, in partnership with and by mobilizing our leaders, thinkers, and philanthropists.


Fostering Jewish Communal Leadership

Federation’s Jewish Community Leadership Program, co-chaired by Joshua Bernstein and Deborah Ratner Salzberg, launched in the spring of 2020. The cohort of 16 leaders is engaging on the biggest issues confronting our region and working toward a communal culture and vision for the future. Federation is investing in their ability to take on our community’s challenges for the long-term. Meet these leaders.


Leadership that Reflects Diversity, Equity,
Inclusion, and Belonging

Grounded in the value that all human beings are created “b’tzelem Elohim” (in God’s image), Federation is working to build a culture of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Greater Washington—including through our lay leadership. For 2021-22, we welcomed several new voices to our Board of Directors.

“Our Nominations Committee set an ambitious goal: to engage leaders and community builders who would add a diversity of perspectives and experiences to Federation’s Board, and, in turn, our work in the community.”

—Johanna Chanin, Co-Chair, Federation’s Nominations Committee

Photo: Audrey Rothstein Photography (

Securing a Vibrant Jewish Future Together

At Federation, we believe our holistic, communal, and collaborative approach to building vibrant Jewish life can lead us towards a brighter future. Thanks to dedicated donors like Beth and Barry R. who continue to invest in our work, we are well-positioned to build vibrant Jewish life today, and plan for tomorrow.

“We have always believed it’s important to support Jewish life, culture, and community to ensure continuity into the future, and we will continue to support Federation as long as we live in the DC metropolitan area.”

—Beth and Barry R.

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Roots Society

The Tree of Life–Etz Haim, in Hebrew–is a long-standing symbol of steadfastness and dedication. Anchoring that tree are the roots that provide the foundation for the tree to grow and thrive. Federation launched our Roots Society in 2020 to recognize the longtime, distinguished donors leading the way for future generations through their 20 or more years of supporting Federation’s Annual Campaign.

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Reimagining Philanthropy in Greater Washington

Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund (UJEF) will conclude a strategic planning effort this fall, reimagining the role we can play in this meaningful and important space. UJEF seeks to be an ongoing partner to Jewish philanthropists in the nation’s capital region who are seeking to make a significant charitable impact, driven by Jewish values. Learn more about how UJEF can help you achieve your philanthropic goals.

“It has been a great privilege and a huge pleasure to create a legacy that will help ensure the future of the Jewish community for generations to come.”

—Melanie Nussdorf, member, Federation’s Executive Committee, in the Washington Jewish Week

Funding & Allocations Snapshot

Resources collected by Federation and UJEF will enable Federation and the Greater Washington community to help those in need, and to build and sustain vibrant Jewish life in a changing world.



in resources allocated by Federation and UJEF from all sources, donor designated gifts, and government grants, will support programs and services locally, in Israel, and around the world.

United Jewish Endowment Fund Snapshot

Federation’s UJEF manages $291.8 million and proudly administers 787 donor funds, including 260 Donor Advised Funds.

Assets Under Management: $291,800,000

Resources Raised by Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund: $19.3M

Responding to Evolving Communal Needs


$1.1 million
helped 1,500+ individuals and families across 87 local zip codes meet emergent needs.


$1.2 million
in scholarships and financial aid allocated to 39 early childhood education centers, 20 summer camps, and 6 Jewish day schools to expand access to Jewish life for more families with young children.


$4.4 million
has been allocated to COVID-19 relief and human service needs throughout Greater Washington in 2020-21.

Combating Jewish Poverty


$1.3 million
allocated to support individuals as well as further the implementation of Federation’s comprehensive and integrated anti-poverty initiative to address communal needs for the long-term.

Investing in Communal Security


$3.5 million
in federal security funding has been infused into Jewish communal organizations with the help of Federation and Secure Community Network staff, a 70% increase over 2020.

Supporting Vital Organizations


$1.86 million
invested in emergency funding to help vital organizations keep their doors open and our community connected during the pandemic—and beyond.

Thank You

Thank you to our dedicated professional team for their passionate dedication in pursuit of a vibrant Jewish future for our community.

Federation is grateful to our volunteers, leaders, professional team, donors, corporate sponsors, and community partners. In a challenging year, you stood up for our community, collaborated to address pressing needs with creativity, gave at unprecedented levels, and inspired our community to emerge stronger and more determined to sustain vibrant Jewish life in our region. On behalf of our partners and all those we serve, thank you for your commitment to strengthening Jewish life and making a difference for thousands in our local and global Jewish community.

Report as of 10/11/2021

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington logo with text: Connect with Purpose