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Looking Back, Eyes Ahead


I have been thinking a lot about our community over the last few months; spending time on what we have been through and what lies ahead.

What is changing in our community both locally and globally, and what needs changing? How can we inspire and activate the immense talent of our Greater Richmond Jewish community to move from strength of 2023 to excellence in the years to come?

Jewish Richmond is filled with people whose greatest ambition is to make our community better, to craft new paths to Jewish life and whose deepest desire is to connect with and uplift fellow Jews.

They are made up of dreamers, who work hard to improve our world. They are writers who document and communicate our past to enlighten and stimulate our future.

They are makers and dreamers who work together to make things happen, take risks and inspire generosity of both human and financial resources. Jewish Richmond is special and together the dreamers, writers, and makers are why the story of Jewish Richmond keeps evolving, from strength to strength.

Everybody involved in the business of creating a thriving Jewish community plays a key role in the story-making business. Some of us teach students or feed the hungry. Some care for the elderly or house the homeless and protect our places of gathering or care for the mental well-being of teens.  Some are connectors and ambassadors, ensuring no one is alone.

Still, others are givers of time, talent and resources. Many play multiple roles. All of us – professionals, lay leaders, donors, recipients – are part of a community of caring. We try to craft opportunities to tell the stories of success, learning, engagement and social change. All of us are storytellers and story-makers.

I’m reminded of so many powerful stories from this year; the calls to support Ukrainians fleeing a horrible war, those asking for help to bury their family in the Jewish tradition and with dignity, the meaningful conversations about Jewish life, our schools, our kids and our future.

We recently celebrated Shavuot – a holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah, and in that gift, we understand that the story of the Torah is not one simply to be read again and again without emotion.

The most powerful stories of the Torah are the ones we weave into our own lives. The ones we use to guide our actions, our values and ourselves. When we love each other more, protect each other, and share our pain and joy, we find deep and profound meaning in our community of caring. That is what Federation and our community are about – today – for the last 88 years and forever into the future.

Thanks to each of you for being part of our collective; our sacred family.

Telling stories and sharing stories is vital to human interaction and connection, today more than ever. The ability to share someone’s story is a gift few possess. It requires the ability to listen, not just to hear but to understand. It relies on trust, a knowledge that the person you are sharing with will protect, honor – and support you.

It requires understanding and relationship with the individual, so you can get beyond the surface and reflect on the emotions and values they share. It requires dignity, passion and patience.

As we look ahead to a year that is sure to bring change and opportunity for our community, let’s remember the important and vital role we all play – that change brings discomfort and in discomfort is where we learn and grow the most.

Let’s all together support each other, work together and grow Jewish Richmond together.

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