CEO November Update

Family Comes First

Years ago, the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York had a campaign to acquire new depositors. Their theme was: “You have a friend at Chase Manhattan.” A few years later, Bank Leumi came into the same market and realized they may have an edge in attracting Jewish customers. They came up with the slogan: “You may have a friend at Chase Manhattan but at Bank Leumi, we’re mishpacha!” That means we’re all family and one Jew takes care of another Jew.

There is much suffering that we witnessed this summer. We felt like we were almost there. In fact, Richard Samet and I were in Israel on a mission and we relayed much information back to you. We were treated like family in Hadera, our Partnership2Gether city,  and other parts of Israel.  They were so glad we were there to show our support.

I remember hearing stories from Israeli friends that during the Yom Kippur War there wasn’t a household that didn’t have a story about a relative who was hurt or died. The facts are out about the recent war – Operation Protective Edge. During the more than 50 days of conflict, more than 4,300 rockets were fired by Hamas and 32 terror tunnels were discovered and destroyed by the IDF. Yet the toll on the five million Israelis within terrorists’ reach – the stress, the fear and the trauma of life under fire – is immeasurable. Our family needs our help.

JFNA’s Emergency Response Allocations Committee for Operation Protective Edge has planned for both immediate and long-term needs in Israel. The committee continues to allocate funds to our partner agencies working in severely affected communities. These resources help address the persistent and damaging psychological effects of living on the front lines and the economic toll of the summer on Israel’s already disadvantaged south.  And in other parts of the world our family needs our help.

In Ukraine, as JDC CEO Alan Gill emphasized at the recent Grand Event, the estimated 300,000 Jews have been profoundly affected by the political and economic instability that have wracked the country since January. A chain of rapidly evolving events, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea, an uprising against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and subsequent election of Petro Poroshenko, the downing of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft and the pro-Russian rebellion in the eastern provinces has progressed to open unrest between the Ukrainian army and militant rebel groups. The extremely volatile conflict has put many Jews and Jewish institutions in turbulent environments where personal and collective security is greatly at risk.

For thousands of Jews caught in the crosshairs of Ukraine in crisis, JDC assistance – food, medicine, trauma counseling, emergency accommodations, and more – is a critical linchpin in their survival. This lifesaving work is made possible through contributions to the Annual Campaign of the of the JCFR.

So, what do we do as we look at our homeland under siege? What do we do when we see the crisis in Ukraine unfolding? How do we react when our friends tell us that they are being battered? When family calls …. We answer. Kal Yisrael Arevim Ze la Ze. All Israel is responsible one for the other.

Let me lay out some tangible acts that we can all take to help. Of course, make a new gift or increased gift to the Federation Annual Campaign or the Israel Emergency Campaign. As we embrace the 2015 Annual campaign we are being asked to do more for Israel. How can anyone deny that they need our help? Get involved with our Jewish Community Relations Committee. Come to Super Sunday on Dec. 7 or call Federation now to see how you can get involved in the campaign. Don’t lose hope – get involved. If your kids are old enough, get them involved with AZA or BBG.  If they are older still, get them involved with Hillel on campus or Network JCFR. Volunteer at any of our agencies. But don’t lose hope.

There is one other way that we can help. In this new year of 5775, rearrange your schedules and come with us to visit our family in Eastern Europe. Our next mission is planned for Bucharest and Budapest in early May of 2015. We will visit our sister Jewish communities as they are rebuilt and revitalized by the JDC.

Let’s do what we can to help. Increase your pledge, call one of our agencies, or call Federation to volunteer or sign up for our mission. Do it now.

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


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