With the cycle of the Jewish year beginning anew, we are also experiencing the cycle of renewal at the Jewish Federation. At our upcoming Annual Meeting we will celebrate the conclusion of Steve Fleischman’s tenure as our president. Steve began his term during the height of the pandemic, which in itself is worthy of celebration. While Steve will count many significant accomplishments during his tenure, we are grateful to him for his leadership vision especially with regard to governance and his zeal to jump in with his whole heart. We were filled with pride when Steve and Amy Holtz represented our community so beautifully at the start of the Ukraine war, personally schlepping heavy bags of humanitarian supplies to Poland and sharing stories. Steve’s leadership will not end with his presidency thankfully, as he will next helm the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign with a special emphasis on PACE fundraising.
Our next president will be the second to hail from Cheshire in the past decade. Gerry Barker has been actively engaged in Jewish life as a leader at Temple Beth David and having served in leadership of the Federation, with several years of service chairing the planning and allocations process and serving on the committee and board of directors. Gerry’s goal through allocations and in other spaces has always been one of maximum inclusion and fairness. He is wise and thoughtful and always interested in learning more about people, needs, and how he can help. My favorite thing about Gerry is that he may possibly be even more optimistic than me.
Gerry truly believes that if people only knew of the incredible things we do at the Jewish Federation then of course they would want to be involved. I could not agree more and I am looking forward to working closely with Gerry as we tell our story to more and more people in the years to come. Gerry’s also a ton of fun to travel with and everyone will have an opportunity if they join on this March as we travel to Israel: Choose Your Own Adventure.
As the new year begins, growth and expansion will continue in several key areas aligned with our strategic plan. Our survey and report calls for investments in security, Jewish education, care for the vulnerable and to increase philanthropic support invested locally. We have made incredible strides in all of those areas and we will continue to build out programming and funding opportunities to enhance our local community and honor our commitments in Israel and around the world.
For almost seven years I have had the great joy, honor and privilege of leading this dynamic Jewish community. Along the way we’ve overcome unimaginable challenges and built new possibilities for a bright and strong future for the Greater New Haven Jewish community.
I will be wrapping up my tenure in late October to take a position as chief development officer of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. In addition to the opportunity to work in furtherance of Hadassah’s important mission, I will be relocating to be much closer to my family, including my adorable two-year-old grandson, Dylan.
I have loved every moment working for you and if geography was not a concern, I would want to continue in this role forever. The strong staff team leading the Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC and the dedicated and passionate lay leaders that work beside them are those who made this journey great fun and so successful. They will all continue to invest themselves leading forward.
Kol ha’kavod to Steve and b’hatzlacha to Gerry and to the Jewish Federation’s interim CEO Amy Holtz. Our community could not be in better hands!
Wishing all a happy, healthy, joyous and prosperous New Year.