We hope you had a meaningful Shavuot, the holiday commemorating our receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, a defining event for the Jewish people. Sadly, Shavuot this year followed a challenging time for our community. First, our CEO Michael Jeser delivered the difficult news that he will be stepping back from his professional position to focus on himself and his family as he continues his cancer treatment. We are all thinking about and praying for Michael as he navigates this strenuous situation. I have worked very closely with Michael over the past two years. He is a strong and thoughtful leader. He has repeatedly impressed me with his vision and strategic thinking, both for Federation and the entire Jewish community. But what I find inspiring about Michael is his character as he has led Federation while battling a serious disease. Michael has shown grace, class, and strength in the face of monumental personal and professional burdens. Michael has made our Jewish community better, and he will continue to do so by simply being the mensch he is.
Second, as you all know, Israel has suffered terribly from more than 3,000 rockets aimed at civilians. Twelve innocent Israelis have been killed, and millions terrorized. The toll and trauma experienced by so many in the region because of Hamas is frightening and deeply upsetting. We support the Israeli government and the IDF in protecting and defending our beloved Jewish State from this terror. We stand with all the people of Israel who are under attack. We mourn those who have died and we pray for the speedy recovery of all the injured. Our hearts break for all those suffering in this terrible conflict, especially our friends and family in Sha’ar HaNegev, who are once again on the front line. If you would like to help the people of Sha’ar HaNegev with a financial contribution, you can do so here.
We will continue to share with you the most up-to-date information and resources regarding this situation. JFNA has assembled this Resource PageResource Page%u200B of marketing materials, statements, action items and more, including ones that you can share immediately on social media. Jewish Federations and our partners are already on the ground bringing life-saving humanitarian aid, including emergency grants to victims and their families, psychological counseling to all those affected, and support for first responders.
As I watch the slanderous media coverage of Israel, I am reminded of the prescient words of Solomon Schwartz, father of Auschwitz survivor Rose Schindler, and grandfather of Federation Board member Jeff Schindler. In 1938 in response to Rose’s questioning why her fourth grade classmates treat her differently, he says “In our history as Jews, there have been people who tell lies about us. Somehow, they get others to believe them. It seems there is someone working very hard to make people believe that Jews are bad right now.”
Thank you for your support for Israel and the Israeli people. We pray for peace, and for refuah shlemah for Michael and his family,