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L'Shanah Tovah – A Sweet and Healthy New Year

Shalom Chaverim,

Earlier this month, at our Annual Gathering, I opened my speech with these words:

Coming together is a beginning
Keeping together is progress
and working together is success.


These words – which felt like a perfect fit for Jewish Federation’s year in review, also seem apropos as we welcome in the Jewish new year.

Looking back at my first year at Jewish Federation, I am proud to say we have – as an organization – reached out to the community to work together more than ever.  Last year, I set a goal of convening the community so that Federation could focus on working collaboratively to strengthen our community while continuing to excel at what we do best.

I am proud to say that together, we have accomplished much. This year has been one of growth and re-imagination for Jewish Federation.

The many changes, big and small, have resulted in some spectacular achievements. I am pleased to share that we are exceeding our 2017 Community Campaign expectations through the incredible work of our staff and our devoted campaign ambassadors and benefactors.

Connecting to Our Giving
It is exciting and rewarding for me to connect with the people we touch. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do just that this year.

My first connection involved a Kansas City couple in need of emergency financial assistance due to a medical crisis. Jewish Federation, in partnership with JFS, was there to help them though our Gesher Emergency Assistance Fund. It is Community Campaign dollars that support this program.

I was more personally touched yet again in recent weeks:

My heart was saddened with Hurricane Harvey’s widespread damage in Houston, followed immediately by the devastation Hurricane Irma left in Florida just two weeks later. I was proud to be part of a community that came together and raised funds to the tune of $55,000 to help. It warms my heart to see our Federation join with the North American Jewish community to come together collectively to lend financial, emotional and even hands-on staffing help in their time of need.

Personally, the house I left behind in Florida was lucky to survive Hurricane Irma with only loss of electricity and some outside damage. I knew however, that the Jewish community would be there to help should I have needed them. We come together. We are there for each other.

Finally, last Shabbat, I joined Rabbi Zalman and Nechama Tiechtel for dinner at Chabad House in Lawrence. One hundred students from all different denominations were there singing, saying the blessings over wine and bread, and sharing a meal. The energy was palpable. We sat closely together and talked about our Jewish community and how Federation has reached out to Chabad to support a new outreach program. We have done the same for other synagogue programs. We have opened our tent. These students are our continuity. They are our future.

While at dinner, one young woman introduced herself and thanked me for the Jewish Federation scholarship that enabled her to participate in a summer trip to Israel. My heart was filled with gratitude, pride and thanks that we, as a Jewish community, come together and make such a difference in the lives of so many here in the greater Kansas City area as well as abroad.

Today, we are the lucky ones. Tomorrow that may not be the case. Let us count our blessings and revel in the knowledge that we are there for each other, through good times and bad. We are family.

Looking ahead to a Bright Future
Our opportunities are endless. Alongside Board Chair John Isenberg, I am excited to lead an energetic group of staff and lay leaders into a vibrant future – for Jewish Federation and Kansas City’s Jewish community. I am equally grateful for our partner agencies and synagogues who work together to reach out and collaborate - bringing out the best in all of us.

We have only just begun.

As 5777 draws to a close, I thank you for your support of Jewish Federation. If you have not yet had the opportunity to give to our 2017 Community Campaign, I ask you to consider making your gift this holiday season.

After all, it is by working together that we accomplish so much. Together, we make the most wonderful things happen. I appreciate our staff whose tireless work energizes our community and our organization.

Shanah Tovah, a sweet and healthy new year,
Helene