CEO March 2017 Update

Spring is in the Air

We have not had much of a winter so far. 

In a few weeks it will be spring and spring in Virginia is a time of change.  The warmer weather makes us feel so alive!  The weather energizes us and spurs us forward.  The greening of the lawns, the vibrant colors of the flowers and the additional sunlight inspires us to shake off our winter doldrums and accomplish great things.

This spring is made all the more promising by the success of this year’s Federation Annual Campaign. Last year’s campaign raised more than $3,003,700. The 2017 campaign is expected to go even higher.

Spring also means the Federation’s annual allocations process.  For what would fundraising be were it not for the fund distribution process. We have an excellent committee of community volunteers, chaired by Howard Goldfine, who will review the funding requests from our beneficiary agencies and organizations.  As in the past, Howard and his committee will do a marvelous job ensuring the accountability of the entire fund distribution process.

This also is the time of year when the IMPACT GRANTS Committee gets going. You have heard me talk and read past columns about the IMPACT  GRANTS making a big difference in our community.   For last year, 2016-17, here is a list of programs that we funded:

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

KBI Jewish Student Union - JSU clubs provide a framework for Jewish public school students to learn more about their Jewish roots and enhance their Jewish identity.

RTA Midor l’dor - In conjunction with the Weinstein JCC Senior Adults Program, JFS, Beth Sholom, and RTA will build strong and consistent connections with seniors in the Richmond area. Programs will include visits by RTA students to senior facilities as well as seniors visiting RTA classrooms,attending performances and sharing holiday meals and celebrations.

Weinstein JCC EnRich - The collaborative program (Weinstein JCC and Jewish Family Services) provides monthly sessions that meet the social, mental and physical needs of individuals 65 and older. Different tracks have been developed to meet the needs of seniors.

Bonay Kodesh - Tikkun Olam events are being held as well as  Jewish Holiday celebrations intended to establish an active Jewish community in Chesterfield County, while building strong interfaith partnerships.

Honeymoon Israel - Honeymoon Israel will provide newly married interfaith couples the opportunity to travel to Israel; and infuse these couples and their future families with Jewish values.

Beth El – Havurah Project - Temple Beth-El’s Havurah Project provides meaningful opportunities for interfaith families, working to strengthen identities of young people, and improving the lives of seniors.

The new IMPACT GRANT Proposals for 2017-18 have arrived. The committee chaired by Amy Nisenson will start meeting shortly to review 10 grant proposals and determine which will be funded. Again, this year the grant proposals fall into the three priority areas – teen engagement, senior adult services and inter-faith programming.

Your campaign dollars make a difference both here and overseas.

The Jewish Agency for Israel  has seen a significant uptick in immigration from Western Europe, Ukraine and other areas around the world. Aliyah both rescues people from hostile situations and helps strengthen Israel by increasing its human capital.

Our Board of Directors adopted a sister city in the Ukraine – Zaporozhe last year. Many Jewish members of this community have been displaced as a result of the military action in the eastern Ukraine. The situation is much like the end of WWII, where displaced persons were in need of housing, food and clothing.  Two trips of top leaders from the JCFR have visited Ukraine to see the situation on the ground in Zaporozhe, a city of about one million people. These million people are served by the Jewish Family Service in Zaporozhe and its entire budget is only $300,000.  

There is tremendous poverty and enormous problems that need attention.  The JCFR Board of Directors has committed our community to helping our brothers and sisters in need by committing $250,000 ($50,000 per year for five years) to services in Zaporozhe.

In another important initiative, the JCFR and Richmond Jewish Foundation have joined forces to assess the state of our Jewish community in 2017. This new research effort should yield a wealth of information about the Jewish community in-and-around Richmond with respect to community needs, wants, interests and values.  More importantly, the study will provide JCFR and RJF with actionable insights that will support leadership decisions and strategy formation going forward. 

The first phase of the process known as the Community Exploration (qualitative research) has just been completed. This phase engaged a variety of individuals in discussion around critical issues via both in-depth interviews and focus groups. The interviews have been completed.

This will be followed by a community-wide survey (online and telephone) in Phase 2 –   Community Evaluation.  The research study is being conduction by the Melior Group, our Community Study consultants. I will share more details on the study during the year. There will be ample information on this and other initiatives in future columns in 2017. 

Our community has many of the essential ingredients for future growth and development. We have visionary leadership at our agencies   –the front line of our service delivery system.  We have responsible agencies that deliver effective programs and services. We have a communal vision and leadership able to distribute funds to emerging priorities. 

We have great leadership at the JCFR from our President Nannette Shor, President- Elect Ellen Renee Adams and Campaign Chair, Seth Kaplan on down.

So, what more do we need? We need more people involved in raising money, more donors, more volunteers and more high-level Campaign contributions.   If you have not yet made your gift to the 2017 Annual Campaign, please do so now, so we can include your pledge in this allocations cycle.  

We need you. With your help we can keep moving forward. 

As always, let me hear from you about this column or other things of importance at (804) 545-8622, or visit  


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