Update: Shabbat Message from the CEO Nov 17

Dear Friends,
Today marks the 42nd day since Hamas savagely attacked Israel and the 42nd day of captivity for the 240 hostages. This past Tuesday, the American Jewish community’s voice was heard, chanting “Bring Them Home! Now!” at the March for Israel in Washington DC. Our Board Chair Heather Kline and I had the honor to lead our 30-strong Orange County delegation, whose voices joined with 290,000 others on this historic day on the National Mall. Among the voices in our delegation were our Merage JCC shinshinim Orr and Noa, Israeli high school graduates who defer army service for a year and serve Jewish communities like ours to strengthen ties with Israel. Orr shared that being at the March reminded her there was still a sense of humanity in the world; Noa expressed her gratitude for the outstanding support of Israel, which she felt deeply and personally. We are grateful to Orr and Noa for their work connecting youth to Israel.

For me, the March was a form of davening—allowing me to make sacred the pain our community is feeling, the pain that I am feeling for Israel. It also served to remind me that in times of great suffering there remains hope and healing
a promise for a better tomorrow. Standing amongst so many like hearted and minded was humbling. It filled my soul with an uncommon sense of solidarity—with Israel, our community, and with friends in this Jewish neighborhood we created that day. Read more about the March for Israel here.

Our Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised over $975,000 from 940 donors. Jewish tradition teaches that giving tzedakah is both a way of caring for community and belonging to community. Orange County’s response to this horrific moment in history has been exceptional. In donating to the Israel Emergency Campaign, we live the value of community. We demonstrate the power of our collective voice. And we affirm our commitment to Israel and to Jews around the world. Thank you for living generously! Learn more about the impact of your support here.

In response to increasingly visible acts of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment in Orange County, the Federation’s Rose Project assembled a meeting of Jewish community professionals (primarily executive leaders and rabbis) to develop a strategy for communicating and coordinating our efforts to combat antisemitism. This was the first step in establishing a plan for rapid response to ongoing acts of antisemitism resulting from the Israel-Hamas war. In addition, the Rose Project has been closely monitoring the experiences on school campuses and has worked closely with school leadership in Corona Del Mar. We appreciate the measures they are taking to maintain a safe environment on campus for all students and staff.

Engaging Jewish leadership is core to Federation’s mission. Together, we shape the Jewish OC neighborhood. At this year’s Late Night with Solomon Society, over 270 of us gathered in solidarity with Israel and to strengthen each other. Without our leadership there is no l’dor v’dor. This sentiment was so eloquently stated by Mensch of the Year, Adam Isaac Miller, who shared, “I am here in front of you today because of Jewish continuity. Because of my family story. I am the legacy of the generations before me and all the work that they have done, and it is my job to continue the work for the next. My being here today as Mensch of the Year is more a testament to those who came before me than anything I have done.” Those of us who know Adam know the honor of Mensch of the Year is well-deserved and that his leadership will continue to strengthen our community locally and globally. Mazal tov once again, Adam, for your leadership!

Together, we will honor our leaders as we gather for the Federation’s Annual Meeting on Monday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the Merage JCC’s Myers Theatre. Please join us to elect our 2024 Board of Directors, to welcome new Board members, and to recognize the contributions of those who are completing their service on the Board. Conversation and refreshments will follow. Register here.

Federation’s ability to mobilize and lead our community, and to provide strategic philanthropy locally and globally, is made possible by the Annual Campaign. The Annual Campaign delivers programs that amplify Jewish life and sustain the Jewish future in Orange County, Israel, and around the world. Please consider making your gift to support programs that combat antisemitism and all forms of hate, strengthen Jewish identities, and care for vulnerable populations.

We are living through a difficult time. Our unity and our togetherness provide hope and strength, and the promise that we are building a more perfect world.

Shabbat shalom,
 Erik Ludwig

Erik Ludwig, PhD
President & CEO