16 December 2022
Federation’s mission is to inspire, build, and sustain vibrant Jewish life in a changing world. To a certain extent, this is a very simple idea.
Alongside our partners, we seek to build a community where all who desire to belong have a place where they do; where we can build meaningful and sustaining relationships and learn about the ideas, texts, values, history, and practices of Judaism to shape their Jewish future; where we care for and look out for each other; where we deepen our connections to Israel and the global Jewish people; and strengthen the world in which we live.
The challenge, of course, comes from making all of this happen, particularly amidst evolving needs and threats.
At any point in time, we must simultaneously address the unique challenges of the moment and the influence of past events, while keeping a clear eye on our aspirations for Jewish life. Our world changes even as our aspirations stay clear. The COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent disruptions impacted almost all parts of peoples’ lives, specifically changing how we interacted with one another and affecting our ability to build relationships and community. Two years of separation shaped and reshaped what people are searching for in their lives as well as how they engage as part of our Jewish community. We must understand how different members of the Jewish community were and continue to be affected by the isolation and economic impact of the past two, going on three, years.
Today, we also face the pressing and unnerving rise of antisemitism. For many years, we have thrived as a modern American Jewish community in a context where expressions of antisemitism were publicly dismissed as extremist hatred. Many of us raised children — or were ourselves raised — in an America where antisemitism was relegated to the fringes of society. But of course, our society has radically changed in recent years. Our community now faces a reality in which an increasing number of leaders are willing to implicitly — or explicitly — express antisemitism, ignore antisemitic statements by colleagues, or publicly endorse and amplify the voices of antisemites.
So, where do we go from here as American Jews in the heart of the nation’s capital?
We stand strong and united in the face of antisemitism and combat it explicitly. We enact the safety and security measures to swiftly shut down those who would seek to harm us. We hold others accountable to reject antisemitism, regardless of its source.
Most importantly, we ensure that hatred — in any form — never hinders our efforts and ability to build vibrant Jewish life for ourselves and our children, now and well into the future.
That’s why Federation is deeply committed to ensuring that every Jewish community member can engage safely and proudly in Jewish life. So, while of course we will always prioritize our investments in our community’s safety and security, we will also continue investing proudly in deepening communal connections; ensuring that every community member has a place where they feel they belong; and celebrating who we are as a strong, vibrant people.
This is our collective challenge, and we need your partnership, engagement, and support to make it happen. I thank those who have made a gift to Federation’s 2022 Annual Campaign. For those still finalizing their end-of-year giving plans, please consider donating at shalomdc.org/donate, or by calling 301-230-7239, before midnight on December 31st.
Thank you for working together to strengthen and brighten our community, today and in the future.
Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights) and Shabbat Shalom,
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