This has been quite the challenging year. It is too easy to dwell on the negatives, so, instead, I am sharing some of the highlights of 2020:
- The Jewish Federation began its Centennial year – we were founded on February 2, 1920. We are honored and humbled with the responsibility to serve this Jewish community, as well as Jews worldwide.
- The return of the Jewish Review. This online, bi-weekly community resource has been very well received. We are grateful to Deborah Moon, editor, for all her efforts in bringing local community news to everyone.
- Our Jewish community’s tremendous response to COVID. Perhaps more important than the additional $900,000 raised (through a strong partnership between the Jewish Federation and the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation) was the ability of our Jewish organizations to “turn on a dime” and create new programming and service delivery.
- Enhanced collaboration between Jewish organizations. Too often there is a feeling of “us vs. them.” With everyone being impacted by the pandemic, there was a much greater spirit of “we.” I hope this continues.
- Federation created a wide array of special virtual programs including our Weekly Wednesday and Thoughtful Thursday series. We had two cooking demonstrations with Chef Michael Solomonov. A night of comedy. And, of course, set the unofficial world record for the largest virtual Shabbat candle lighting ever.
- The Jewish Community Relations Council continues to be at the forefront of the fight against hate and racial injustice.
- The Wexner Heritage Leadership Program cohort was announced. These 20 young adults will begin their program in fall 2021 (the start was postponed for a year).
- The Jewish Federation moved its offices near the Washington Square Mall. Although we moved into the space in May, most of our employees continue to work from home. This new space offers more flexibility and greater efficiencies. We look forward to having an “open house” when the time is right.
- Our 2020 Campaign for Community Needs, despite the pandemic and questions about fundraising, exceeded our expectations. During the annual allocations process in June, every agency received the same level of funding as the prior year. With great campaign success and funds from the federal PPP program, we raised $200,000 more than anticipated and these additional dollars were set aside for future needs.
With the new year, we look forward to even greater things. This includes another successful annual campaign year (thank you for those who have already made your commitment to our 2021 Campaign) and several new initiatives to enrich our Jewish community. We also plan to announce new dates for the postponed Centennial Trip to Israel by the end of January. We will go and hope to bring 400+ people with us. And, of course, we look forward to the time when we can come together in person and celebrate our Jewish community.
I am not naïve and recognize that this was not a rosy year. Far too many people have died from or contracted the virus. We have been isolated. We cannot hug our loved ones. And we have made significant changes to our daily routines. Through it all, here are some lessons I have learned along the way:
- Self-care is a priority! (Join our community for a Wellness Havdalah on Saturday, January 9 at 6:00 p.m. Come together as a community to nurture our mental health & wellness and celebrate the start of a new week with a Havdalah Service. Register here.
- Sadly, Covid spares no one.
- Always have something to look forward to.
- Wi-Fi matters and it is clear everyone needs access to it.
- Zoom is not so hard to use. (And no one knows if you are wearing pants or not.)
- You do not have to be productive all the time; taking time for yourself is not selfish or lazy.
- Thank our frontline workers!
- No complaints about getting gas every three weeks.
- Perhaps our lives were over-scheduled and it is good just to be at home.
- Exercise no longer feels like a chore; it is something to look forward to every day.
- I may never carry cash or go to a bank again.
- Alone does not have to mean lonely – learn to enjoy your own company. At the same time, we do have a need for the moral, physical, and spiritual support of others.
- In the past we stayed away from “negative” people. Today, we stay away from “positive” people. Let us hope not for long.
- The constant onslaught of news can be overwhelming (especially with the election). It is okay to turn it off.
- I love banana bread, now the most downloaded recipe in the world.
- Do not expect anything – appreciate everything – you never know what is going to happen next.
Thank you for your continued support and involvement in the Jewish community. We continue to be here for you every day.
I would be remiss if I did not thank the Jewish Federation Board, especially our Chair, Lauren Goldstein, and the Federation professionals for the incredible work they have done throughout the year. I am fortunate to work with so many great people. I also have great admiration for the lay leadership and professionals in other Jewish organizations for their partnership and perseverance. It has not been easy at times with so many unknowns. Through it all, everyone kept their eye on the ball – the well-being of our entire Jewish community. I am so proud of what we all achieved and I know we will accomplish even more in the year ahead -- with your support.
Understanding that challenges remain, let us all approach 2021 with optimism and hope. Stay healthy, get vaccinated when available to you, have a Shabbat shalom, and happy new year!