Shabbat Shalom from CEO Nora Gorenstein

National Women’s Philanthropy celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Lion of Judah with “Women Making History” this year!

Dear Friend,

I am proud to be part of our Western Massachusetts Jewish community, which features a diverse and interconnected network of individuals, groups, and organizations of all faiths and backgrounds supporting each other in partnership, and yes, sometimes having productive disagreements. One aspect of Jewish tradition I find especially beautiful is that we are not only allowed to question, but we are encouraged to do so. We can each hold simultaneous, opposing views, and continuously grow through rigorous debate with each other (and within ourselves).

Whether you are passionate about Israel, the environment, Jews in need, feeding the hungry, supporting refugees, making a better life for your family, or any of the many important topics and causes across the world and in our local community, we can all agree that it is important to do what we can each and every day in ways that feel meaningful.

Our community and its many groups and organizations offer a way to get involved, or just stay informed about the needs and deeds happening locally and globally. I am especially proud of all the work being done by our Jewish Federation, our programs including Rachel’s Table and Women’s Philanthropy, our community partners across Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, and our JFNA network and overseas partners. For those who receive the Republican, you may have seen an article this week featuring our local impact through Rachel’s Table in partnership with Jewish Family Service to support refugees, also published on MassLive (for subscribers only).

As our Jewish year draws to a close, and we prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I hope you will join me in considering the ways we can each have a greater impact, individually and collectively, in the year ahead.

Although we care deeply about our local Jewish community, as a part of the Jewish Federations of North America, our reach is vast. You are part of a Federation system that has responded quickly and collectively to support a host of urgent needs that have surfaced during the pandemic, in Israel and in overseas Jewish communities. You are helping to deliver homecare and services to isolated elderly in the FSU and Israel, provide bridge loans to allow local nonprofits stay afloat, provide new immigrants to Israel with basic needs, and so much more.

Being a member of a powerful collective enables all of us to pitch in and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Every community, no matter how large or small, gives a helping hand, empowering us to accomplish what no single community can do on its own. Together we can rescue the last remnants of an ancient Jewish community in Yemen, ensure the dignity of elderly Jews left in the FSU, secure Jewish institutions around the world, and provide transformative Jewish experiences for young people.

The fuel that enables this powerful system to run is the Annual Campaign here in Western Massachusetts and in communities like ours, which provides unrestricted dollars to our overseas partner agencies, The Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World ORT. This funding enables our partners to be present in more than 70 countries, navigating across different governments and cultures, and meeting Jewish needs on the ground every day. It also enables rapid response in times of crisis. Our partners were able to begin responding last March, as soon as COVID-19 emerged, because they were already there in February, deeply embedded in Jewish communities around the world.

JFNA’s long-standing partnerships with the Jewish Agency, JDC and ORT extend our individual communities’ reach and empower us to deliver on our core mission – caring for the entire Jewish community. This global platform has unparalleled scope, enabling us, as we have done so many times in the past, to meet needs around the world together, bringing hope and healing to Jews in need.

I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas on these critical topics, and if you have not already done so, take our quick survey on communication. If you are not automatically connected to your unique survey link, please let me know so that I can help.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch any time. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shabbat shalom,

Nora Gorenstein
Chief Executive Officer