22 January 2021
Over the past few years, I have watched as individuals have gone out of their way to contribute to sustaining Jewish Greater Washington. Federation’s Annual Campaign, for instance, customarily receives donations from thousands of people across multiple zip codes who all want to make a difference, care for our community’s most vulnerable, and build vibrant Jewish life in the nation’s capital. I am continuously inspired by our community’s generosity, compassion, and vision.
This past year, however, has left me and our entire team truly humbled. At a time when it would have been understandable if people chose to focus solely on the challenges in their own lives, we saw the opposite. Our community made it a priority to step up and care for one another and for those in need. This was not the work of just a few people either—this was the work of thousands of individuals, lay leaders, and communal professionals, each choosing to be part of a greater whole in ways we have never seen before.
I am proudest of the fact that, together, we were able to meet essential needs and show support to people across Jewish Greater Washington. We are caring for individuals and families by providing cash, food, and other critical assistance and by ensuring that our confidential Jewish community support line, 703-J-CARING, is staffed by trained professionals to connect those in need with resources from across the region. We are also proud to collaborate with and support Jewish organizations and synagogues, positioning them to further their essential work in serving the more than 300,000 members of our community. Read more in our 2020 Community Report.
It is also a testament to who we are as a community that in 2020, Federation raised an incredible $21.3 million for our Annual Campaign, as well as an additional $6.3 million for COVID-19 relief and ongoing communal human service needs. As a result, our community can continue to help identify and address the most pressing issues we face as a people and as a local Jewish community, and to collectively build a vibrant Jewish future. This mission-driven work includes continuing to support Jewish Greater Washington through an unrelenting pandemic and its lasting implications and building an anti-poverty initiative to ensure everyone can live with dignity.
We will also be looking specifically at what we can learn from this past year about how to make Jewish life more relevant and meaningful to all who are interested. We want to embrace and amplify the innovations that are serving people during this time while staying true to the fundamentals of community building, helping individuals, leaders, and new voices come together to evolve Jewish life. Finally, in this era of division and rising inequality, we are continuing to bring people together to consider how Jewish values can guide us in making a collective impact on our country and our world.
I am deeply grateful to each of you for making this work possible and for everything you do to support our community. Although 2021 has already brought with it a new set of challenges and opportunities, I am more confident than ever that we will meet them with the joy, strength, resilience, and resolve they require.
Shabbat Shalom and thank you,