By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
In just four days, we will turn the calendar and 2019 will be here. The days fly by during busy times, and throughout 2018, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle was busy making impact on our community in many ways. I want to share with you several highlights of our work this year in ensuring Jewish continuity by serving as a community voice, strengthening connections with Israel and world Jewry, and making investments in Jewish life.
First, however, a grateful shout-out to all the donors who make our work possible. Your generosity is sending PJ Library books to children and giving kids scholarships to attend Jewish camp. Your gifts are bringing Israel-focused community events to life and deepening connections with our Jewish homeland. Your support is behind our community’s effective advocacy in Olympia and Washington, DC. And so much more. If you haven’t made your year-end gift yet, there is still time! You can make your gift here.
In 2018, our collective voice delivered significant wins for Jewish Puget Sound in the Washington State Legislature. Working with partner organizations and dedicated community members, we secured significant funding for combating anti-Semitism and hate. Legislation strengthening protections for immigrants and refugees, civil liberties, and gun violence prevention was enacted into law. At the federal level, our community’s advocacy secured a significant funding increase for the Non-Profit Security Grants program. Legislation strengthening protections for Jewish community centers passed Congress unanimously and was signed into law.
No resting on laurels, however. Our advocacy work will move back into high gear when the Washington Legislature opens its 2019 session on January 14. Join us for Jewish Community Lobby Day on March 26!
Collaborative work was the key to our community’s advocacy successes in 2018. Fostering collaboration is the goal of the Community Convening Initiative. Launched by Federation in 2017, the initiative has been paying off this year with healthier relationships among Jewish agencies and gratifying progress on many initiatives on which organizations are working together to address top-priority issues.
One of those initiatives is deepening our community leadership pipeline. The Federation has made a strong commitment to this priority through our investments in leadership training – the Advanced Leadership Development Program, which graduated 20 emerging leaders in 2018; the new NowGen Seattle Giving Circle; and in partnership with the Samis Foundation, the rigorous Wexner Heritage Program. The next Wexner cohort begins in the summer of 2019.
Fostering deeper connections with Israel has always been a priority for the Federation as an element of a more vibrant Jewish community. In 2018, we stepped up our game in fostering stronger ties with Israel. We sponsored a Community Trip to Israel to explore our Jewish homeland’s amazing creativity. We launched an initiative to bring more Israel-centered education opportunities to our community, starting with the “Left v. Right” debate between renowned journalists J.J. Goldberg and Jonathan Tobin and continuing February 7, 2019 in An Evening with Ambassador Dennis Ross. We re-focused a portion of our overseas investments in Israel and World Jewry on programs that are youth- or young adult-oriented and offer opportunities for community members to make people-to-people connections. Next year, we are planning immersive educational experiences for teens and young adults: the Teen Israel Leadership Institute and Young Adult Israel Engagement Initiative. And in the spring of 2020—mark your calendars!—we will sponsor our next Community Trip to Israel.
All of this and more is what your generous support of our work makes possible – ensuring the continuity of Jewish life through our collective embrace of Jewish values, of collaborative partnerships, and of the strong relationships that are the foundation stone of our community, today and tomorrow.