The turn of the year is traditionally a time of celebration and reflection. We must celebrate our collective commitment to Jewish life in Orange County, Israel and around the world. The collective demonstrates our community’s strength, its ability to work together to make the world a better place. I want to share my tremendous gratitude for the generosity of more than 2,400 donors who have helped us raise over $5 million in 2023 to achieve Federation’s mission. Thank you for caring about the Jewish future and sustaining Jewish life.
In the month of December, we distributed over $522,000 to Israel, providing humanitarian aid for those affected by the war, and strengthening social service programs essential to the quality of life for vulnerable families. Our Jewish Federation has been involved since 1994 with the Jewish Agency for Israel program Partnership2Gether, which links communities like ours with communities in Israel. We value greatly our relationship with the city of Kiryat Malachi and the regional municipality of Ashkelon Coast, and I am incredibly proud that our most recent support—benefiting the Jewish Agency, JDC, NATAL, and Kiryat Malachi programs for parents at risk and families affected by domestic violence, as well as those impacted by the war—will bring hope and renewal to those who need it most.
Aligned with a renewed sense of hope in the new year is our annual Women’s VOICES event celebrating women philanthropists as change makers for current and future Jewish generations. We are thrilled to announce Noa Tishby as our keynote speaker this year. A bestselling author and former Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism, Noa brings a wealth of experience and insight from her years of Jewish leadership. Join us on the evening of March 14 to honor our 2024 Woman of the Year Heather Kline (now Immediate Past Chair of the Federation Board), and raise critical funds to support our community locally and globally. We look forward to Noa’s inspiring words and to celebrating Heather’s extraordinary leadership.
Monday, January 15, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are many ways people understand Dr. King’s legacy, one of which is as a voice for civil rights and of peace. Monday, January 15 will also mark 100 days since October 7 and the hostages are still not home. We must continue to be a voice for their freedom until we bring them home. From my conversations with many of you, I know that like me, you are also feeling the additional burden of this existential moment of Jewish peoplehood and are shocked by the unprecedented level of antisemitism. I am here for you. We must continue to be here for each other and not grow weary under that burden but gain strength in our solidarity with Israel, with each other, and in knowing that peace is security. As Dr. King stated at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly on March 25, 1968:
“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
Tzedakah, building a more just world, remains core to the mission of Federation. It is what allows us to respond to moments of crisis such as the current Israel-Hamas war. It is what enables us to amplify Jewish life and sustain the Jewish future in Orange County, Israel and around the world. Tzedakah is at the heart of hope and renewal for the Jewish people.
May we go from strength to strength.
President & CEO