CEO April 2016 Update

We embrace a strong Jewish identity focused on Tikkun Olam 

In a recent article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, national columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that Bernie Sanders “is the most successful Jewish candidate for the presidency ever.” I agree and have been pleasantly surprised very few people seem to care that Bernie is Jewish.  We are more accepted in American society than we have ever been.

Krauthammer goes on to talk about Jewish identity in America. Bernie Sanders has commented on growing up with Holocaust survivors in his neighborhood.  It had a great impact on his life. He said: “I am very proud of being Jewish.”

Krauthammer notes  the  many ways that American Jews commonly explain the role Judaism plays in their lives – through ritual practice, Tikkun  Olam – repairing the world and Holocaust  remembrance. He said;   “It would be a tragedy for American Jews to make the Holocaust the principal legacy bequeathed to their children. After all, the Jewish people are living through a miraculous age: the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty, the revival of Hebrew, the flowering of new Hebraic culture, etc.”

So, let’s see how the Jewish Community Federation stacks up against Mr. Krauthammer’s benchmarks for strong Jewish identity.

We work on many outreach and engagement programs like PJ Library, Enterprise Circle and Richmond Jewish Coalition for Literacy that connect people to Judaism and accomplish works of Tikkun Olam. This year the expansion of JCRC has brought us into closer contact with people of other faiths (Tikkun Olam) and has worked to combat BDS.  And we continue to maintain a very successful Network JCFR program to connect future generations to our work. 

At my last count, we have organized or participated in 12 missions over the last six years. So, connecting to Israel and other Jewish communities is very important to us. Our last interfaith trip just returned and we again thank Cathy Plotkin and Marvin Daniel for bringing the State of Israel into the lives of so many. We also connect to Israel through our partnership with Hadera in Israel, which has never been stronger. 

This past year, an IMPACT GRANTS  process was developed to inspire organizations, Synagogues and agencies to develop innovative and impactful programs and services to support and enhance the Jewish community of Richmond. The areas of community service funded were: Engage interfaith families in Jewish activities; Initiatives to improve the lives of Jewish seniors and older adults; and Opportunities for youth to strengthen their Jewish identities

These are the programs funded under IMPACT GRANTS this past year: JFS’s KiRVA program is modeled on the JFS friendly visitor and telephone reassurance programs. This collaboration with Congregation Beth Ahabah is being expanded to include Temple Beth-El. 

Keneseth Beth Israel Jewish Student Union - clubs provide a framework for Jewish public school students to learn more about their Jewish roots and enhance their Jewish Identity. 

Weinstein JCC EnRich is a collaborative programs with the Weinstein JCC and JFS. It provides monthly programming that meets the social, mental and physical needs of individuals 65 and older. Different tracks have been developed to meet the needs of seniors. 

Rudlin Torah Academy’s Midor l’Dor program (in conjunction with the Weinstein JCC Senior Adults Program, JFS, and Beth Sholom) are focused on building strong and consistent connections with seniors in the Richmond area. Programs include visits by RTA students to senior facilities, and seniors visiting RTA classrooms. 

Beth Sholom Prevent Elder Abuse Program is providing education to the larger Jewish community about the nature of abuse, the potential for caregiver burden, and the charged dynamics that can occur in stressful situations.

We have just completed a second round of IMPACT GRANT Funding allocations meetings and I am confident we will add some new, exciting programs to the list.

So, I believe we are doing well promoting Tikkun Olam efforts and funding our beneficiary agencies: Beth Sholom Lifecare Community, Jewish Family Services, Rudlin Torah Academy and the Weinstein JCC. 

We connect with Israel and other communities around the world on a regular basis. And, most recently, the Virginia Holocaust Museum has been approved for affiliate membership in the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.  This amazing institution helps us remember our past, as we march into a secure and innovative future. We are glad to have VHM back under the umbrella.

As always, contact me at (804) 545-8622 or email


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