13 January 2021
I continue to reflect on the learnings and insight from 2020 that I have brought with me into this new year. Among them is that from isolation came a deeper understanding and appreciation of the power of human connection. While our community navigated unimaginable loss and significant challenges, we also rose up to face these struggles collectively.
Guided by your leadership, Jewish Greater Washington has found new and innovative ways to care compassionately for one another, to embrace Jewish life, and to invest our time, energy, and resources in ideas and initiatives that will move us into a vibrant Jewish future. In reflecting on all that 2020 meant for us, I know our community will continue to connect with purpose in 2021 and for years to come.
Below, please find the latest update on Federation’s work and impact, delivered with thanks to you for your partnership and support in meeting our community’s needs.
FEDERATION FOCUS: JANUARY 2021
2020 asked a lot of our community, and Jewish Greater Washington responded with generosity and compassion. Late last week, our team proudly and gratefully announced the conclusion of our 2020 fundraising with $42.9 million in total resources raised from more than 8,000 generous donors.
These dollars—which include $21.3 million for the Annual Campaign, $15.3 million in newly invested resources in Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund, and $6.3 million for COVID-19 relief and ongoing communal human service needs to be invested over the coming years—ensure Federation and our donors can continue to see the community through the wake of the pandemic and pursue a vibrant Jewish future. And in all the ways we choose to reimagine Jewish life, we remain committed, first and foremost, to helping people access the support they need and find community with one another.
Caring for Individuals and Families
Our foremost priority remains ensuring that our community’s most vulnerable members receive the swift and compassionate support they need, and that every family has the opportunity to participate in Jewish life.
- Informed by the insights from our 703-J-CARING Jewish community support line, Federation and our network of human service partners are now developing an integrated, scalable strategy for long-term systemic response to poverty in the local Jewish community. Our learnings will empower us to more effectively position our community to address concerns that have only become more pervasive and severe in the wake of the pandemic, including food insecurity, housing, job training and placement, and mental health. Read more about the evolution and impact of 703-J-CARING in the Jewish Funders Network’s January newsletter.
- We also continue to prioritize expanding access to Jewish Day Schools, early childhood education, and summer camps for local families through scholarships and financial aid funding. Providing opportunities for more children to participate in identity-building experiences is vital to a resilient and vibrant Jewish future. It is especially crucial that we help families facing hardships continue participating in Jewish communal life. Camp funding is now available, and our expanded pool for first-time overnight campers has already been fully granted to families. The funding models for Day Schools and early childhood centers are now in their final phases of development, and recommendations for that process will be made to Federation’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors in February.
Securing our community
As we bore witness to the historic events of the past several weeks, Federation has remained focused on safeguarding our community.
- In partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN), our security team keeps local leaders informed and prepared for any scenario. Our Regional Security Advisor, Robert Graves, and Deputy Regional Security Advisor, Chris Usher, are in regular contact with law enforcement partners and Jewish community leaders and offer security training and consultation for local agencies. We encourage all organizations in our community to register their primary professional and lay leaders responsible for institutional security to receive SCN Alert for timely security-related updates and information.
- With $180 million for the Federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program now available, SCN partnered with JFNA to produce a webinar preparing Jewish organizations to apply. More information on the application process is also available on the NSGP website, and we will continue to keep the community apprised of updates. If your agency or synagogue is considering applying, please contact Robert or complete this form to determine how Federation can best assist you.
Furthering Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
In working towards a vibrant Jewish future, Federation is proactively using our resources, platform, and influence to build a culture of inclusion and belonging and to facilitate anti-racism efforts in Greater Washington. Our work is grounded in the Jewish value that all human beings are created “b’tzelem elohim” (in God’s image).
- Earlier this week, Federation had the privilege of hosting community members Kwon Crumble Benowitz, Joseph Levin-Manning, and Deitra Reiser, in conversation with Yolanda Savage-Narva, to share their experiences with Jewish life in Greater Washington as Black Jews and Jews of Color. If you were unable to join us for the thought-provoking webinar, I encourage you to watch the recording. Please also let me know if you’d be interested in the discussion guide to help process this conversation.
- Simultaneously, we have invested in the DC Launchpad, a broader communal initiative gathering lay and professional leaders from organizations of all sizes in meaningful dialogue, to help each institution further their perspectives on inclusion through a communal lens.
- We recognize that this important work must begin from the inside. As such, we are fostering inclusion, equity, and belonging for our professional team and lay leadership. We recently welcomed Rinat Kisin, Inclusion & Belonging Specialist, to our staff, and know her work will spur us closer to a more welcoming, inclusive Jewish Greater Washington for all community members. Our professional team is also working with experts from Team Dynamics, an organization wholly focused on diversity and inclusion, to strengthen our understanding and approach to this work in our daily interactions and as it informs our efforts as a Federation.
My colleagues and I are tremendously grateful to you—the leaders and builders of Jewish Greater Washington—for your continued partnership. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you further about Federation’s work, including and beyond the efforts outlined above, and to hear what’s on your mind. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time at [email protected].