Reflecting on 2019

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
This is the time of year when we pause in our busy schedules to catch our breath, reflect on the year drawing to a close, and imagine what the next turn of the calendar will bring.

The year 2019 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle was an exciting time of change, initiatives, and impact – all guided by our commitment to be a connector enabling every single Jewish person in our community to be a part of Jewish life and ensure Jewish continuity, now and far into the future. YOU, our generous donors, are the spark for this year of achievement. YOU have connected children and families to Jewish life. YOU have developed the leaders who will keep our Jewish community dynamic and vibrant for years to come. YOU have been a driving force in the fight against antisemitism.

I’d like to share with you a few of the many 2019 accomplishments that you made possible and the foundation they have laid for 2020. But first things first: Thank YOU for your support that made 2019 a year of impact. We couldn’t have done it without you. And, if you haven’t made your year-end gift, there’s still time! Please take a moment and make a gift here.

Now, a highlight reel for 2019, starting with children and families. In 2019, we marked the 10th anniversary of the PJ Library® in Seattle through our partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. The PJ Library is inspired – a low-barrier, high-impact avenue for connecting kids and their parents to Judaism through the wonderful Jewish children’s books they receive, free of charge, every month and at gatherings where families can get to know each other and form Jewish micro-communities. This year, we introduced two new ways for PJ families to engage in Jewish learning and play – Bim Bam Baby! and Family Volunteering Challenge. There’s a hunger for opportunities like these because the gatherings fill up within days. Look for these programs to further blossom in 2020!

YOU are the spark for PJ Library programs that bring Jewish families together.

PJ starts kids on their Jewish journeys. At Jewish overnight summer camp, their journey accelerates. In 2019, over 300 local children received Federation scholarships and first-time incentive grants that enabled them to have the transformative experience of Jewish summer camp. There, they made close friends, had loads of fun, and embraced their Jewish identity. We’ve heard from adults who went to camp years ago that camp connected them more closely to Jewish life and made a lasting impact on their lives, myself included! In 2020, scholarships and incentive grants will enable hundreds more children to benefit from the overnight camp experience.

YOU are the spark for camp scholarships that change lives.

Leadership is the key to making great programs like PJ and Jewish camping elements of a thriving community. Leadership development is a critical way Federation serves as a community connector. Through four Federation initiatives, emerging leaders and philanthropists are engaged in deep learning and building networks that are foundational for effective leadership. From what I’ve seen, participants in these programs are bright, capable individuals full of amazing ideas and a passion for bettering Jewish life.

YOU are the spark developing community leaders whom we can all be proud of.

A strong, cohesive community guided by effective leaders is essential for countering antisemitism, the most serious and disturbing issue facing Jews today. In 2019, thanks to your support, Federation stepped up, uniting the community to fight this threat in multiple ways. One of them was the SAFE Washington community security program. Among SAFE’s many vital services in the past year was providing expert assistance that helped Jewish organizations to be more secure and keep people safe while still remaining open and welcoming. For ensuring the continuity of Jewish life, security and preparedness are fundamental. In 2020, we will remain laser-focused on fighting antisemitism and SAFE will be at the center of this work..

YOU are the spark for ensuring our community’s safety and security.

My Federation colleagues and I are so grateful for the impact that YOU made in 2019 through your support of Federation. Your Federation has evolved to meet the community’s evolving needs in 2019 and we will continue to do so in 2020. We ask for your renewed support and partnership as we press forward in the coming year to continue our work as a connector, building a vibrant community where there are many open doors to the exciting possibilities of Jewish life.

Happy New Year!