Here it is:
The years seem to be moving rapidly. Before the blink of an eye, we arrive at the eve of Rosh Hashanah. As we lament how the chagim disrupt September, with three weeks of two- and three-day work weeks, we also take time to reflect. We celebrate who we are as individuals, as families, and as a people.
This past year brought many challenges: Challenges as parents, issues we face at the workplace and even major disasters. I ask, how did we respond? What did we accomplish? What mistakes did I make? What have we learned?I think back to the Jewish Agency meetings in Israel in November, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit. We saw the immediate, overwhelming response of UJA Federation of New York, along with the Federations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rockland County, N.Y. to a wide range of local needs. The Federations’ impact, with their network of agencies and volunteers, continues even today. The disaster also shut down our own offices and systems 10 days before the GA, though thanks to our dedicated staff we worked through it.
Then, only hours after an inspiring GA in Baltimore, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense amid rockets raining down on southern Israel. Within hours the Jewish Agency and the JDC were assessing the needs and working closely with our Israel office. Within 24 hours Federations committed to $5 million in humanitarian support. Within 72 hours, JFNA Chair Michael Siegal was on the ground in Israel, leading a solidarity mission representing our Federations from Boston to Birmingham to Los Angeles.We not only met pressing challenges of the moment, but we were reminded of how Jewish Federations, every day, are building the Jewish future. This summer on the Campaign Chairs and Directors mission with leaders of campaign, National Women’s Philanthropy and Young Leadership Cabinet, we met young people in Minsk whose Jewish identities were inspired by summer camps Federations helped make possible. In Israel, we spent an evening in the hills outside of Jerusalem with Birthright participants, singing and celebrating being in our Jewish homeland.
This past year only reinforced for me how privileged I am to work every day for the Jewish People. As communities, united together, we accomplish incredible things. May this year bring us from strength to strength, and bring health, sweetness and joy."What have we learned," indeed?
PS Do we truly "lament" the "disruption" to our calendars caused by the High Holy Days, Sukkot...? Give us a break.