5780 has been a year for the history books. At such a critical juncture for our community and our nation, we are emboldened to be leading the New Haven Jewish Federation Annual Campaign’s fundraising team. We are proud of the Jewish Federation’s efforts to provide care, assistance and comfort to the Jewish and Greater New Haven communities during the COVID-19 emergency.
Before COVID-19 (“BC”), our rejuvenated JCC was on track to its best year ever with growing membership and revenues. Our beautifully remodeled campus continued to serve as the communal meeting ground and educational facility. Camp Laurelwood was preparing for a summer season. Our community-supported day schools, Ezra Academy and Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy, were thriving.
But in the COVID-19 era (“CE”), everything changed. With the government-mandated cancellations and closings, the Federation moved into crisis mode and provided essential guidance and funding to ensure that our institutions could continue to provide bedrock services to constituents in need. They responded to anti-Semitic incidents, including cemetery vandalism and the painting of a swastika on our JCC. Since March, the Federation has fulfilled the needs of the Jewish community with meals for shut-in elderly, mental health counseling, and guidance and financial support to its agencies and other Jewish institutions. With the Masks for Heroes campaign, the Federation has helped distribute over 1.2 million masks to those in need. Additionally, the Federation was a co-sponsor of the Black Lives Matter March in New Haven after the killing of George Floyd.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity,” Albert Einstein once said. We now find ourselves looking for opportunities. For us personally, it was having our four (mostly grown) children living together with us for over four months. For the New Haven Jewish community, it was the opportunity, with your continued financial support and volunteerism, to provide leadership to buttress the community through COVID-19 by continuing to provide support and guidance to our community.
The Talmud says, “ein kemach ein Torah” (Avot 3:21) or “without flour there is no Torah.” There are still important projects to complete; we are not out of this emergency situation yet. The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven is uniquely poised to assist our service providers and programs. But we cannot do this without your generous donations. With the pooled financial gifts of our blessed Jewish community, the Federation will be able to continue to support essential community programs. We know that this has been a tough year, but please reach deeply into your pockets to help the Federation with whatever funding you can provide. There are still many needs to be met. It is essential that we continue to have an active JCC to be a community anchor through this storm. It is essential that we have the capability to provide increased services to Jews in the Shoreline, Milford and Cheshire areas. With anti-Semitism on the rise, it is essential to have a strong Jewish community. With your help, we can all come out of this crisis with renewed strength.
May we be blessed with health, prosperity and a quick return to normalcy in this coming year. Our community is strong and great. Please continue to provide your financial support for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven’s campaign to keep it so.
Howard Reiter and Jody Ellant