Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Passover Federation and JFNA

Dear Community,

On behalf of the Federation Board and staff it is my great pleasure to wish you all a Chag Pesach Sameach - a Happy Passover.

Passover celebrates the great redemption of the past, our Exodus from Egypt, and provides context for expressions of hope for the future. On that note, I would like to share with you a letter from Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO, Jerry Silverman, as he reflects on our important work this Passover.

May your Passover be filled with love, blessings, and the joy of freedom.

Thank you, for all you do.

Michael Sonduck
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Dear Friends,

This Pesach, my family and I look forward to celebrating at home and in our shul with relatives and dear friends. To prepare, many of us will stop by the kosher market to get shmurah matzah, fresh horseradish and many other foods that make this holiday so special.

But this year, there may be a security guard by the door of the market. Friends at my shul may also be volunteering to keep watch.

In Europe, our fellow Jews will be on higher alert still. In France, home to the third largest Jewish community in the world, wearing a kippah while walking down the streets of Paris is now an act of bravery. When Jews sit down to a group Seder at a community center in Denmark, they may keep one eye on the door, and not just for Elijah.

Federations have an important role to play during this turbulent time. Sharing our security expertise, showing solidarity and ensuring that Jews can live safely and securely wherever they choose—whether in France or Denmark or Israel—is central to our work.

Thankfully, European governments have unconditionally condemned the recent anti-Semitic attacks. But it is undeniable that European Jews are less secure today than a decade ago. A recently released Pew study confirms that harassment of Jews has reached a seven-year high. Our Jewish family in Europe is questioning their future.

Should Jews abandon Europe? In the past year, more Jews moved to Israel from France than from any other country. But it would be tragic if every Jew left Europe, abandoning communities that have worked so hard to rebuild in the 70 years since the Shoah.

It is Federations’ role to help both those who choose to move to Israel and those who choose to stay. Support for aliyah is a mainstay of Federations. But so is ensuring that Jews are confident and secure wherever they live.

One of the most important ways we can support Jews in Europe is simply by telling them, “We haven’t forgotten you.” During the JFNA mission to France in February in the aftermath of the attack there, Jewish leaders told us how grateful they were for our presence, our letters of support and our rallies.

Indeed, this past year has truly reminded us of how uniquely positioned Federations are to mobilize in a crisis to support Jews around the world.

When thousands of rockets rained down on Israel last summer, Federations raised $55 million to help Israelis recover and rebuild. Federations have already raised and allocated $4 million to provide food, medicine and financial assistance to the thousands of Jews caught in the crosshairs of the conflict in Ukraine, and are now mobilizing to provide additional help.
As we sit down at our Seder tables to celebrate our annual festival of freedom, let us keep in mind our fellow Jews throughout the world, and remember the difference that Federations make in their lives.

Next year in Jerusalem. Or Paris. Or Kiev. Or wherever Jews choose to live.


Jerry Silverman
President & Chief Executive Officer
The Jewish Federations of North America


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