CEO October 2016 Update

Let us work to do more this year

The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are called the Yamim Noraim or the Days of Awe. They are a time serious introspection. As this edition of The Reflector arrives in your homes, we will just be beginning this period.

In the days preceding the Yamim Noraim, I have been thinking a lot about our community and the directions we have taken. I seek your attention as I mention some of our accomplishments in the past year and perhaps ask your forgiveness as I consider areas where we could be doing a better job in the coming year.

Every year we begin our JCFR Annual Campaign in August/September. This year, our General Campaign Chair Seth Kaplan, along with Women’s Division Chair Barbara Kiken and Co-Chair Jill Goldfine, Men’s Division Co-Chairs Gary Goldberg and  Russ Jennings and Young Adult Division Chair Yael Fletcher, are leading a great team of volunteers in the 2017 Campaign. They are supported by Campaign Director Alissa Aronovicci, Operations Director Sara Rosenbaum and Young Adult Coordinator and Communications Specialist Jesse Feld.

The JCFR Annual Campaign is the main fundraising vehicle for the community. Each year, we try to raise funds to meet ever expanding needs. This year we have increased the Campaign goal to $3.15 million.

We saw the need firsthand in the overseas community of in Zaporozhye in March of 2016. A mission to Ukraine led by Mark Sisisky included Nannette Shor, Kevin Fine, Yisroel and Yael Fletcher and myself. The work of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in the Jewish communities of that nation is nothing short of miraculous. This was witnessed by the mission participants as we visited local Jews in their homes and at the JDC-run community center. Without financial support provided by Federations via the JDC, these people wouldn’t survive. Proudly, our Board adopted Zaporozhye as a sister community.

Last year we entered into a new allocations system, which included an IMPACT GRANTS process. IMPACT GRANTS inspire individuals, organizations, Synagogues and agencies to provide innovative and impactful engagement programs and services that support and enhance the Jewish community of Richmond. 

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, improving the lives of Jewish seniors and older adults, and creating opportunities for youth to strengthen their Jewish identities.

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

This year’s IMPACT GRANTS recipients are as follows:

Beth Sholom Elder Abuse Advocacy 

The Beth Sholom Prevent Elder Abuse Advocacy Program educates the Jewish community about the nature of abuse among the elderly, the caregiver burden and the highly charged dynamics of stressful situations. The grant money is also used to create a safe space and housing for an abused senior.

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’s Senior Adults Program, JFS, Beth Sholom, and RTA are building strong and consistent connections with seniors in the Richmond area. The funds allow RTA students to visit senior facilities and allow seniors to visit RTA classrooms. They are attending performances, sharing holiday meals and hold joint celebrations.

Weinstein JCC EnRich 

This is a collaboration with the Weinstein JCC and JFS. It provides monthly sessions that meet the social, mental and physical needs of individuals 65 and older. 

Bonay Kodesh 

This program plans Tikkun Olam events and Jewish Holiday celebrations, intended to establish an active Jewish community in Chesterfield County, while building strong interfaith partnerships.

Honeymoon Israel 

Honeymoon Israel provides newly married interfaith couples the opportunity to travel to Israel. Doing so will infuse these couples and their families with Jewish values.

Beth-El – Havurah Project 

Temple Beth-El’s Havurah Project provides meaningful opportunities for interfaith families, strengthens identities of young people, and improves the lives of seniors.

Between taking on Zaporozhye and establishing the IMPACT GRANT program, there is a great deal we are doing for which we, as a community should be proud. Yet, we did not meet every need nor are we perfect. And this is the time of year when we ponder if we have done all we could. 

Could we have asked one more person to consider a first contribution? Might we have requested one more increase from an established generous donor? Could I have increased my own contribution even a bit more? Could we have recruited one more Super Sunday volunteer? How could we have better expressed our appreciation to each and every donor? In this Holiday season, the most important question now is what we can commit to do in the future?

For that left undone, your understanding and forgiveness is requested. For needs left unmet, we will try to do more. In the coming year we will work harder because the needs of the Jewish community deserve our best efforts and unqualified success. We need to increase our giving and expand the campaign to meet the goal of $3.15 million. Our Jewish community will rise to the occasion. We will work diligently for Tikkun Olam -- our community’s desire to improve the world.

Shanah Tovah. May it be a sweet and blessed new year for us and all of Am Yisrael. 

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



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