By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
At sundown on Sunday, we turn the page to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, bidding farewell to the year 5779 and welcoming 5780 and all of the hopes and aspirations that we have for the New Year.
In our tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the world’s birthday and a happy custom for any birthday celebration is to make a wish. My colleagues and I at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle are sharing our wish for the Jewish community, here, in Israel, and around the world. Our wish is embedded in our overarching mission – to ensure that our community is strong and thriving, that there is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone who wants to connect with Jewish life. That has been our wish since we opened our doors over 90 years ago. It’s important work that calls to us all year long … and it’s all made possible by YOU, our generous donors who make so many wonderful things possible for so many people.
Our work fighting antisemitism is front and center in ensuring that our community will have a vibrant future in the New Year and in the years ahead. On Tuesday, we held a press conference to release the Puget Sound Jewish Community Statement on Antisemitism, signed by 46 local Jewish organizations across the spectrum of our community’s diversity, and an accompanying Pledge Against Antisemitism, signed by over 80 elected and civic leaders. The statement and pledge were the culmination of a thoughtful and educational process in which Federation convened Jewish communal leaders to develop a consensus statement on antisemitism. The statement will be a critical tool that we will use to create broader awareness and understanding of antisemitism and engage our leaders in fighting antisemitism and hate of all kinds.
In the coming year, we will build on our initiatives offering reimagined Jewish engagement opportunities — low-barrier on-ramps to Jewish life that provide meaningful Jewish experiences, which help to create and cement relationships that are the heart of a strong community. In many ways, the Federation is making investments in Jewish experiences that ignite and fuel the Jewish imagination. I’d like to share a few examples:
For over a decade, PJ Library® has been a wonderful catalyst for welcoming families with young children to Jewish life. The Bim Bam Baby! and Family Volunteering Challenge programs that we introduced recently are taking the PJ magic for connecting families a giant step forward. There’s a real hunger for these opportunities — the first Bim Bam Baby! and Family Volunteering Challenge events filled up within days!
Leadership is indispensable to our collective Jewish future — leadership that is deeply informed by Jewish values, grounded in Jewish thought, and prepared to execute an inspiring vision. The people taking part in Federation leadership development programs in the coming year are bright lights who are bringing skill, dedication, and passion to advancing Jewish life. We can count on this year’s cohorts of the Advanced Leadership Development Program, National Young Leadership Cabinet, Seattle NowGen Giving Circle, and Wexner Heritage (a program that Federation carries out in partnership with the Samis Foundation) making a powerful impact in many creative ways.
Israel, a keystone of Jewish identity, will be a core focus of our work in 5780, as it has always been. There is nothing like an immersive personal experience with Israel to forge a lasting connection with our Jewish homeland and with Jewish life. In 2020, Federation will take two groups of local community members to Israel! Our 2020 Community Trip to Israel, May 31-June 10, will be a deep dive through the lens of Israel’s vibrant food, wine, and art culture. And, our second Honeymoon Israel cohort will travel March 19-29. If their experience is anything like the first cohort’s in the spring of 2019, the participants will have a matchless opportunity to find a greater sense of belonging to community.
We are so grateful to YOU for your generous support that makes our work possible. From fighting antisemitism to connecting with Israel to helping people engage in Jewish life through unique Jewish experiences and more, your Federation will be all-in throughout 5780 in service to the community that we all cherish. Thank you for your shared commitment in making this possible.
One more wish on the world’s birthday: a sweet new year to you and all of your loved ones!