This Hanukkah, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is again joining with myriad other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations to #ShineALight on antisemitism. There has perhaps never been a more important time to voice, individually and as a collective Jewish community, our unequivocal condemnation of antisemitism. I hope you have an opportunity to visit JewishVa.org/CombatAntisemitism to gain new information and tools in this endeavor.
There has also never been a more important time to support Israel. October 7 will be a day we never forget as Israel experienced the unimaginable. Israel is at war and needs not only our financial support but also our advocacy. December 4-8, the American Jewish community joined together for a National Mobilization Week to advocate for Israel. Together, we aimed to generate thousands of calls to our members of Congress and urge our elected officials to stand with Israel as it fights to protect its people and eradicate Hamas. Our advocacy cannot stop after this important week. Please visit JewishVa.org/IsraelAtWar23 for more information on advocacy, resources, talking points, and so much more.
Israel needs our continued financial support. The needs are staggering. More than 1,200 Israelis were murdered, thousands more wounded, and as of this writing, more than 130 are still held hostage in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been displaced and entire communities devastated. The level of trauma is shocking, and the needs will be long term.
THANK YOU Tidewater Jewish community! In almost two months, we have raised more than $4.5 million, which has gone quickly and directly to provide humanitarian services, emergency care, monetary support, necessary equipment and supplies, and more, to our partners on the ground, including, but not limited to, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI’s) Victims of Terror Fund, Israel Trauma Coalition, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Magan David Adom, United Hatzalah, children’s villages impacted by the attacks and the war, and more.
Our immediate and substantial response is making an impact in Israel every day. But Israel will continue to need our financial support, as will Ukraine and other Jewish communities around the world. We also cannot shrink from our responsibility of strengthening our own Jewish community. To do all of this and be the leader that Tidewater has been for generations, we must continue to build our Annual Community Campaign. A strong Annual Campaign at home enables us to react when a crisis arises.
A strong Annual Campaign strengthens Jewish education in Tidewater, builds Jewish identity for our children and grandchildren, develops our future leaders, helps our vulnerable families, friends, and neighbors, secures our Jewish institutions, gives us the resources to counter antisemitism, and so much more.
So again, THANK YOU. As we feel the warmth of the Hanukkah candles, let’s find new ways together to dispel the darkness in the world.
Happy Hanukkah and Am Yisrael Chai,
Betty Ann Levin is executive vice president and CEO of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC.