These waning days of the month of Elul signal that Rosh Hashanah and 5779 will soon be here. I look forward to this season of introspection that runs up until Yom Kippur. And I love when, after midnight on the Saturday before Rosh Hashanah, Jews begin reciting Selichot, Hebrew prayers of forgiveness, putting us into a collective mindset of setting intentions for the coming year.
Notice that I said intentions. I make a distinction between the resolutions we make on December 31, and the authentically Jewish way of embracing change at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As Jews, we commit to change and the repair of relationships through teshuvah, which is not simply repentance, but also the revelatory idea of returning to our true and best selves. This is how I frame my soul work for the high holidays.
What does teshuvah and repair mean for our wider Jewish community? What does the collective work our community has done this past year with The Front Porch reveal about where we can grow and how we can be faithful to our core values?
I believe it’s about amplifying our strengths. For more than a century, we have built one of the strongest, most committed and most creative Jewish communities in North America. We built it together. We sustain it together. And together we will take it to brilliant new heights. I cherish all the ways we support and invigorate this community we love – through volunteerism, through social justice advocacy and yes, through financial contributions.
To me, the ultimate way to say, “Being Jewish matters to me. This community matters to me,” is by supporting the 2019 Community Campaign. The campaign is how we actualize our commitment to each other and build a robust Jewish future. As we continue to reimagine, collaborate and innovate, we also honor our obligation to raise the essential funds that sustain our community infrastructure and our people worldwide.
One of Federation’s most important intentions for 5779 is to amplify Jewish giving in bold new ways. This year, with a 1:2 matching grant from a national funder, Federation is investing in the Atlanta Jewish Foundation with additional staff, new technology platforms and new investment options. We intend to increase total resources by securing legacy gifts that can direct even more generosity to local causes.
We have an intention to make community innovation a priority, so we’ll encourage donors to invest through The Jewish Innovation Fund and other targeted giving options. This year, we hired our first ever VP of Innovation, giving donors new ways to:
- Accelerate the progress of change and invest in new ideas;
- Enhance successful, proven initiatives like Jewish Camping and PJ Library;
- Help new programs like Jewish Teen Engagement and Repair the World open even more doors to connection and meaning.
In a growing and changing Atlanta, The Front Porch lays out a vision of what we must become: A thriving and connected 21st century Jewish Atlanta where every Jew and their loved ones can access warm Jewish community, timeless Jewish wisdom, global Jewish peoplehood and Jewish ways to do good in the world. We’ll be the community’s philanthropic champion, diversifying the ways by which we raise funds. We’ll be an incubator for promising ideas that address gaps in services and drive us to try new things. We’ll be a wayfinder, linking people to services, resources and events. And we’ll be both an amplifier and a source of community intelligence, tuned in to what the community wants, and collaborating with all our partners to make great things happen.
These are just some of the ways that we can make 5779 a year of Jewish community health, fulfillment, prosperity and growth. Our Jewish Atlanta is magnificent, brimming with opportunities for spiritual growth, service and connection. For these coming holy days, my hope is that every one of us finds a pathway and a place for nourishment, wholeness and renewal right here in this community.
Ana, Sasha and I wish you, Shanah tovah — all the sweetness the new year can bring!