Thank you. Toda Raba. We are grateful.
The expression of gratitude, conveying our sincere thanks and appreciation, is essential to our Jewish identity and tradition. The first words of our morning prayer, Modeh ani, impel us to start each day with a grateful heart by saying:
“I thank you.”
At Federation, we have many reasons to say, “Toda.”
We are thankful for a Shana tova—a good year. That assessment of a successful year begins with programing because programs serve as the heart of the Federation’s work. With each heartbeat—with every implementation of our thoughtfully and deliberately designed programs—we send oxygen and nutrient-rich, life-sustaining blood circulating through the Jewish community. The strong pulse and steady beat of our programing stands as a significant vital sign of our Federation’s strength. The wellbeing of the integrated and interdependent systems of Jewish Michiana flows from Federation programs such as our holiday, Yoms, CRC, Partnership, and community events.
These programs are not randomly devised and delivered. Rather, they reflect and give life to our vision, mission, and values. They are aligned, by the Federation staff, with our twin core goals of:
K’lal Yisrael: Creating Jewish unity and solidarity across the community regardless of religious views; and
Bayit Chazak: Strengthening our home as the Fed continues to reinvent itself through strategic and intentional choices to serve as the central hub of Jewish life in the region.
I’m also thrilled to report that through the participation of more than 260 individual donors, we achieved the ambitious goals we set for the Federation’s annual campaign. At a time of rising costs and other economic pressures, we successfully raised—through your generous giving—the funds needed to keep the heart of the Jewish Federation beating with consistent vigor and strength. Your magnanimous support of the annual campaign, JFS Virtual Food Pantry Appeals, and JFS itself, powers the Federation’s efforts to care for our fellow Jews in Michiana and around the world. Again, thank you!
This year’s fundraising represents a community-wide effort. You, our dedicated volunteers, and the extraordinary team of Jewish communal professionals at the Fed, make a difference in Jewish lives every day.
Together, we put food on the table and gas in the tank with JFS assistance cards for individuals and families with financial needs. We offer comfort and companionship for older adults and lend a helping hand to ease some of life’s challenges when they arise.
This past year, we also opened our doors for sumptuous Kosher Date Night dining experiences, expanded the product offerings of our camper-run Friday market—Shi'Shuk, received rave reviews on the 13th Annual Michiana Jewish Film Festival, and immersed ourselves in community-building conversations about the values and aspirations that will ultimately define our future.
Toda Raba. I thank my amazing professional staff and board, and, in turn, we thank you on behalf of the community we serve for all that we’ve accomplished together. And we thank you in advance for your investment in the essential work that lies ahead.
Turning to the future, we look with unsparing, but also hopeful and inspired eyes, to what comes next for the Jewish community of Michiana. We embrace with determination and confidence the challenge and opportunity of crafting a new narrative, an inviting and innovative vision for what can be. We will be judged, as every generation is, not so much by what we’ve accomplished in the past as by the foundations we lay for an even brighter future.
With this in mind, we will endeavor, in this coming year, to create an intentional, evidence-based, and opportunity-focused master plan for the future of Michiana’s Jewish community. We will be guided in this process by insights and ideas from our current community members, the experience and expertise of others engaged in dynamic and innovative community building, and the vision and aspirations of the next generation of Jewish leaders—especially those who might pursue those dreams in Michiana.
The master plan will be systemic, holistic, and integrated. That is, it will weave together, within a big-picture vision of Michiana’s Jewish future, specific objectives for creating a dynamic and welcoming Jewish community, one that offers opportunities for us to attract and retain young people to engage and connect with Jewish Michiana on terms that reflect their passions, interests, and models for belonging rather than through the paradigms of the past.
The Federation will stand at the center of this process and, I believe, at the core of the Jewish future that emerges from our collective, community efforts. We will be the heart that keeps the blood flowing to our diverse yet interdependent and mutually affirming facets of Jewish life and living. We are grateful for that opportunity and grateful for your partnership in this sacred and profound process. Toda raba!