Shabbat Message From Our CEO 06.14.24

“We (Jews) believe in hope, and hope has the power to defeat tragedy – as we have the power to mend what we or others have broken… Neither Tanakh nor the rabbis, nor even the mystics, called this tikkun, but that is what it is: the intensely human ability to repair damaged relationships and restore order to the social world.” 
- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Dear Friends,
As we enter our 35th Shabbat since the unconscionable loss of so many lives, and with 120 hostages still not returned to their loved ones, I am deeply moved by your unwavering support for Israel. The generosity you have shown reflects the very essence of our Jewish values and our commitment to taking care of each other.
Like many of you, I felt a sense of gratitude and joy at the news last week that four of our hostages were successfully rescued by the Israel Defense Forces. The return of Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andre Kozlov, and Shlomo Zivs to their families was a true miracle – one that was only possible because of the courageous sacrifice of Arnon Zamora z”l, an officer in the elite Yamam counter-terrorism force of the IDF. We mourn his loss with Israel and our global Jewish family.
Since October 7, 2023, our Israel Emergency Campaign has raised over $1 million, with over 1,000 donors contributing to provide essential humanitarian aid. The collective campaign of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has raised over $846 million in commitments and granted more than $454 million as of June 4, 2024, to support lifeline services, medical and trauma relief, economic recovery, and community resilience. As a result, the collective has supported some 472 Israeli organizations, provided 1.2 million hot meals and food packages, and treated 1.7 million individuals in healthcare facilities. 

Our Jewish Federation has funded over $813,000 in grants to support projects in Israel. Recent grants recommended by our Israel & Overseas Task Force include:

  • $200,000 to the JFNA Israel Emergency Loan Fund, part of a $100 million initiative, to help Israeli small businesses facing critical liquidity issues due to the ongoing war. This effort helps tens of thousands of businesses survive operational disruptions and economic challenges due to over half a million workers being called up for IDF reserve duty or displaced for safety.
  • $30,000 to Achva Academic College in southern Israel, to provide emergency stipends to help students persevere in their studies and strengthen their economic resilience. In a recent dialogue with Dr. Yifat Bitton, the college’s president, our Israel & Overseas Task Force learned about the college's critical role in supporting 3,200 students from diverse backgrounds, many of whom are first-generation higher education students.
  • $33,600 to Tikvah U’Marpeh, to sponsor the week-long Orot Healing Retreat for 120 survivors of the Nova Festival massacre. This retreat offered a safe haven for survivors to begin their healing journey, facilitated by trauma specialists from Israel and supported by passionate leaders from Southern California. 

Beyond these grants, we remain focused on fostering connections within our community. Israeli author and activist Noa Tishby headlined our sold-out Women’s VOICES luncheon in March, inspiring many with her words. Thanks to our partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel, two IDF soldiers visited Orange County in May, engaging with leaders, students, and community members, and strengthening our connection to Israel. Concurrently, we were proud to stand strong with Israel and serve as a sponsor of the annual “Celebrate Israel” festival, presented by the Merage JCC and the Israeli American Council.

These initiatives exemplify our steadfast dedication to supporting Israel and ensuring the well-being of our people. The Annual Campaign remains crucial, enabling us to continue enhancing Jewish life in our community, combating antisemitism, and supporting Jewish communities globally.

Now more than ever, we need your support. Please consider making a gift to the Annual Campaign. With your help, we will continue to achieve our mission.

Am Yisrael Chai.
Shabbat Shalom,

Erik Ludwig


Erik Ludwig, PhD
President & CEO