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Planning for our future


By Jesse Feld
President & CEO, Richmond Jewish Foundation

As I was driving the other week, a song from the early 2000s called, “Ms. Jackson,” came on the radio. I’d heard the song many times before. The Grammy award-winner by the group, Outkast, had topped the Billboard charts as one of the most popular hip hop songs of the times. However, one of the lyrics struck me differently this time around.

During the song, performer Andre Benjamin sings a simple line that reads, “you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather.”

This notion he is singing about is one that our community should all be familiar with. The old Yiddish adage goes, “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht,” which translates to, man plans, and G-d laughs.

Perhaps this has never rang more true than over the past 17 months. I’m sure we all had our, “pretty picnics,” that got rained out. Trips had to be canceled, plans rearranged, and so much of life put on hold.

As the community slowly emerges from this COVID hibernation, we should not be surprised to see the Jewish community just as vibrant now as it was going into the unexpected time of isolation. It is critically important that we do not take this for granted. Community members like you, are the reason that this Jewish community is so strong.


Additionally, we are lucky to have generations of Jewish Richmonders who had the forethought to create legacy gifts and endowments to insure that our institutions had critical funds every single year.

These donors knew the people of Jewish Richmond would be here to keep the institutions going, but their gifts would help in good times and bad.

Uncertainty was paramount last year, however, this past fiscal year Richmond Jewish Foundation granted over $2.7 million to 225 charities to enhance the lives of people locally and around the world.

So, although the wise and illustrious Andre Benjamin is correct, and we can’t predict the weather, what we can do is make sure our community is prepared for any storm that comes our way.

If you are interested in creating an endowment, please feel free to reach out to me directly. Our mission is to engage, educate and inspire generations of donors to create ongoing resources for charitable, religious, and educational needs.

Our vision is to preserve the Jewish people, Dor L’Dor (generation to generation), for the advancement of Tzedakah (justice) and Tikkun Olam (repair of the world).

You can email me at jesse@rjfoundation.org or call me in the office at (804) 545-8656.

For more on the RJF, visit rjfoundation.org/.

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