Dear Friends,

We don’t typically start The Connection in such a wordy manner. However, we are cognizant that people have been inundated with emails, and we did not want to add to your inbox. We appreciate your indulgence as we share this Shabbat message in its entirety. There’s lots more excellent content in The Connection beyond this message and we encourage you to keep calm and read on.

It is a Freed family Shabbat dinner tradition to go around the table and say something good that happened to us during the week. Everyone, even those who feel they may have had a tough week, is encouraged to dig deep and find something positive to share.

There’s no question that the last couple of weeks have been exceedingly challenging as we find ourselves in completely unchartered territory. Each of us has struggled with the anxiety of physical, emotional, and/or economic uncertainty and the many ways “social distancing” has impacted our lives. There are those among us who are ill and scared, and we extend our prayers for refuah shlema – a full and speedy recovery.

Some might say that this would be just the week to take a pass on sharing “something good that happened during the week.” However, from my vantage point, I see so much positivity in our community that we can share at our Shabbat tables, actual or virtual.

Within the last two weeks, every Jewish congregation and organization, large and small, has creatively and deftly shifted programming and operations to remote platforms. If anything, there has been an explosion of local opportunities to join us together spiritually, culturally and educationally.

Jewish Family Services, always dedicated to meeting the social service needs of our community – even more so at this time – has deftly adjusted its operations even while demand for their services has increased.

In the face of a building closure, significantly impacting the Jewish Community Center’s programming and revenue, the JCC has committed to keeping its employees on board and has developed creative new avenues for connection.

This is a confusing time as we try to learn new skills and absorb details about, among other things, federal aid packages that can help our community stay afloat. Jewish Federations of North America has provided invaluable guidance and assistance to communities like ours across the continent, giving us the resources and tools we need to help us weather this storm.

This partnership is mirrored on a local level as we all work together to address the financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of our community. To that end, we have established a Jewish Community Emergency Fund to address the emergent financial needs of the community. The Community COVID-19 Resource page, updated regularly, provides important information about how you can get help, how you can help others, and how you can stay Jewishly connected.

So, as we enter Shabbat, a few words of gratitude – which is really what “something good that happened to me during the week” is all about.

I’m grateful for the Federation team, professionals and volunteers, who are working tirelessly to support the community.

I’m grateful for my colleagues who serve our local Jewish communal organizations, and those from around the country, who, while challenged to meet the needs of their own agencies or communities, have graciously provided insights and support that have strengthened our efforts.

I’m grateful to the health care workers and first responders who keep our community safe and to the other essential employees who keep things going so we can access basic goods and services.

I’m grateful to the members of this community who have been up for anything – especially learning how to run or participate in almost any activity through the wonder of Zoom.

Shabbat Shalom,

Eileen