Shabbat Shalom from CEO Nora Gorenstein

Let us continue to come together as a community through challenges great and small, because WE WERE BUILT FOR THIS!

Dear Friend,

What is on your mind as we enter this Shabbat?

Last week I shared that we are starting to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, to which I received some replies that such a reminder felt a little premature! I am certainly thinking ahead, and furthermore I am grateful to be making the space and time we need as a community to prepare for a wonderful Jewish New Year. Too often, on a personal and professional level, we may find constant interruptions and emergencies taking the bulk of our time and preventing us from accomplishing our long-term goals, or even beginning to plan those goals.

Fortunately, while we continue to address immediate questions and needs as they arise, answering the phones and responding to emails, we are taking the time to be mindful of our mission as the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts and the ways in which our daily work supports that mission. Our Board of Trustees has been discussing and debating the impact of our mission in today’s world, and how we might do even more to support the needs that we were created to address (because we were built for this).

We were built for this? How could anyone have expected what “this” might be, so many decades ago? As find in other contexts, such as Torah study or science fiction (two topics I’ve often brought together in my Jewish education work), the structures and writings of the past can be prophetic, especially about why we are here and helping each other. We were built to support our community and all its changing needs, to participate in a national and international community together with our global Jewish family in North America, in Israel, and in all countries where Jewish people live around the world.

So how do we “hold space” for so many important programs? On a practical level, our office is closing for professional development for a full week. On a less tangible level, as our Board of Trustees continues to plan for our priorities and goals as an organization, our staff is focused on carrying out the directives of our leadership. We are resetting and preparing because the work never ceases, but we cannot afford to be unprepared. We will continue to forge ahead while also constantly striving to improve not just in our local community support but in the ways we partner regionally, nationally, and globally.

This week, Jewish Federations expanded the scope of funding to NGO’s in Ukraine, adding five organizations to the list of agencies that are receiving support. Jewish Federations’ core partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel, American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT also received additional funding.

For the latest update on the crisis in Ukraine, please click here. There is also an important JNS article about the summer camp in Warsaw, not far from the site of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, where 85 young Ukrainian refugees received a three-week respite, thanks to Jewish Federations and our local partners. Ten Russian-speaking volunteers from Federations helped staff the camp, as highlighted in this AP article.

Also in the news this week, Federations partnered with the First Ladies of Israel and Ukraine and NATAL-the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center to bring more than two dozen therapists from Ukraine to Israel to receive specialized training in treating patients with war-related trauma. The launch of this four-month program was covered in the Jerusalem Post.

We have also reached the last few days of our quick survey on communication, so if you have not done so already, please complete the form by Monday, August 8. If you are not automatically connected to your unique survey link, please let me know so that I can help.

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

Shabbat shalom,

Nora Gorenstein
Chief Executive Officer