CEO November 2016 Update

We are the central resource development organization in the community …  and a whole lot more.

Sometimes when you volunteer for the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond you hear comments like: “All you guys do is ask for money.”  Yes, we do engage in fundraising as an essential means to an end.  Campaign and Endowment dollars are the fuel that makes the engine of our vibrant community run.  

In fact, our Campaign leadership has hit the ground running.  General Campaign Chair Seth Kaplan just announced we have passed the $1.8 million mark in the 2017 Campaign.  Men’s Division Co-Chairs Gary Goldberg and Russ Jennings; Women’s Division Chair Barbara Kiken and Vice-Chair Jill Goldfine; and Young Adult Division Chair Yael Fletcher have been meeting with workers and the Campaign is moving forward. Federation Fundraising 101 and the Grand Event were held  –  the latter attended by over 330 community members to hear Professor Alan Dershowitz speak about Jewish world affairs.

Believe me, I get frustrated when I hear these disparaging comments about our development efforts.  I remind our staff and volunteers to take pride in their solicitation efforts.  It’s a noble endeavor for one Jew to ask a second Jew for money to help a third Jew.  This is our tradition and Tzedakah is one of our highest values.

The concept of a Jewish Federation has ancient roots.  It is the modern-day adaptation of the Kehillah – the Hebrew word for community.  Since the Middle Ages, Kehillahs functioned as central communal authorities responsible for meeting the diverse religious, educational, economic and social welfare needs of their Jewish citizens.  Then and now, Federations have performed the Mitzvot of community building.

The JCFR is the central fund raising, community planning, community relations, and outreach arm of the Jewish community in Richmond.  So, we do much more than raise money – we are community builders. Our Federation was founded in 1935 to meet the needs caused by the Great Depression.

In the late 1940s, Golda Meir was the emissary who met with Jewish Federation leaders across the United States to ask for help for the new State of Israel. The American Jewish communities responded by sending over $5 million to Israel and the relationship with Israel has remained very strong ever since.  That was when the Federations began to reassess priorities in their respective communities.  They have been doing that ever since.

Last year, the JCFR entered into a new allocations system that included an IMPACT GRANTS process. These are designed to inspire individuals, organizations, Synagogues, and agencies to provide innovative and impactful engagement programs and services that support and enhance our Jewish community.  

Community priorities were created from numerous focus group meetings comprised of diverse members of our community. The priorities chosen were: Engaging 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.

The IMPACT GRANTS Committee received great feedback from our agencies on program outcomes. As we begin the second year, some agencies have been granted another year of funding while other new programs have been initiated.

For 2016-17, the following programs will be funded through IMPACT GRANTS:

Beth Sholom Elder Abuse Advocacy, KBI Jewish Student Union, RTA Midor l’dor, Weinstein JCC EnRich, Bonay Kodesh, Honeymoon Israel and Temple Beth El’s Havurah Project. 

To continue our community planning process,The JCFR and Richmond Jewish Foundation have engaged The Melior Group to conduct a market research-based study of the Richmond Jewish community.  This research effort will yield a wealth of information about the Jewish community in and around Richmond with respect to community needs, wants, interests and values.  More importantly, it will provide JCFR and RJF leadership with actionable insights to support leadership decisions and strategy going forward.

This study follows the long-standing interest of both in learning more about the community, with previous studies taking place in 1983, 1994, and 2011. Through the information uncovered in this new study, The Melior Group will help to position JCFR and RJF – as well as the institutions, organizations and programs they support – to meet the challenges of the future and ensure the health and vibrancy of the Jewish community of Richmond for years to come.   

This study will include exploratory interviews with a broad array of individuals followed by a community-wide online survey designed to reach as many Jewish individuals and people living in Jewish households as possible.  Using strong branding and promotion efforts, Melior’s innovative, inclusive approach has been successfully used in other Jewish communities to hear not just from those who are highly involved and engaged with the Jewish community, but also from those who are not.   

So, when you think of Federation, think of us as the all-in-one agency for fundraising, community relations and planning, outreach and engagement – community building.   There are many aspects of our Federation where we touch the lives of many members of the community.  

Please call us at (804) 285-6500 to get involved or visit our website  



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