CEO March 2018 Update

The Jewish Questions


They bombard us each day from so many different places. 

How can we insure this meets the needs of the community?

What connections can we build between Israel and Richmond?

What role do we play in leadership development and community planning?

Dad, why does Morah (Hebrew for Teacher) Janice think Tzedakah is so important? 

Honey, where did we leave the remote?

Admittedly some of the questions are more critical than others. However, questions have long served an important role almost legendary role in our Jewish communities. We recall the anxiety and excitement we experienced as a child nervously awaiting our starring role at the Pesach Seder; asking the four questions. A huge part of our introduction to Jewish life is through those four questions. We learn early questions are good. We love them and we sing them – they create a conversation.

 The ‘four sons’ of the Haggadah also are built on the importance of questions. While much has been written about the individual Wicked, Wise and Simple son, it is the last in the list that intrigues me most – the son who doesn’t know the questions to ask? He sits alone, outside of the community, not knowing exactly what is going on and is basically oblivious, except for his blank stare at the excited goings-on at the Pesach Seder. 

He is a tragic and mute character who is not part of our people as he isn’t even inquisitive enough to ask about the strange and bizarre rituals he is watching.

The Maharal of Prague explains that people feel satisfied with their view of life. Thus, they are complacent when it comes to assimilating new ideas. But, when a person has a question, it is an admission of some lack. This creates an “empty space” to be filled.

The fear of asking questions is antithetical to being Jewish. To be part of the “people of the book” is to take pride in learning and questioning until the truth is revealed. It is what has made the last four weeks as Federation C.E.O so exciting. I have only been asking questions, listening and thinking, struggling and wrestling with big Jewish ideas.

It is something our Federation has been doing and is going to be doing a lot of over the next six months. That doesn’t mean we aren’t working, or moving or thinking, however, it does mean we are looking at the empty spaces in our community. We are figuring out how to connect and engage a broader section of our community, how we can work to bring together our agencies, Synagogues and community, how we strengthen the bonds of world Jewry, here in Richmond, in Israel and in countries around the world. 

What is Jewish Richmond going to look like in the future? What needs will exist? 

What programs and services will be needed in 2025?  

It is these questions and many more that have led us to establish a diverse and dynamic committee to take what we have learned from our “Navigating the Future Community Study” and put it into action. 

We will have participation from every agency, constituency and Synagogue in our community. We will develop the plans together, asking the tough questions and looking for answers together. I am excited about the process and look forward to sharing the findings as we uncover them. 

Stay Tuned ... it’s going to be a really interesting journey!

Wishing you a wonderful and meaningful Pesach Seder!


Stop by our Federation offices at the Weinstein JCC to say hello, or call me at (804) 545-8622) or email


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