Time to wrap it up: 2021

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Featured

Most general media publications are leading their end-of-year wrap articles with the Capitol riot on January 6 and are including mentions of vaccines, climate change, and wealthy folks’ space rides.

For Jewish News, however, our wrap is focused on the Jewish world…some global, but mostly local. Over the next few pages, we’ve recapped some of the many Jewish-oriented events that took place in Tidewater and around the globe. As vaccinations increased and people inched out of their homes and away from their screens, more activities returned in-person and adjustments to ‘new normals’ took place. Those adjustments, as we all are painfully aware, continue to evolve.

In 2021, words and phrases such as pivot, super-spreaders, and vaccinations required took on new meaning. Do you have any guesses for the new phrases of 2022? If so, please send them to news@ujft.org with PHRASE as the subject line. We’ll run them in the January 2022 issue of Jewish News.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy a virtual (sorry, had to do it) trip through the past year.


With the swearing in of President Joe Biden, The new Administration includes many Jewish members. Among them are Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Chief of Staff Ronald Klain, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Elaine Luria, and 35 other members of Congress.

Jewish Family Service announces it is increasing its focus on outreach through its Private Duty Embrace program. In addition to its traditional home care services, it is enhancing and further developing case management and concierge services to support people who want to remain in their own home.

Strelitz International Academy returns from Winter Break to Spirit Week, culminating in the Day of Giving, hoping to inspire parents to participate in the school’s annual donor fund.

Elena Baum, director of UJFT’s Holocaust Commission, is appointed to Governor Ralph Northam’s Advisory Committee on Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices. Gail Flax is named to the Governor’s Teach Advisory Work Group.


The 28th Virginia Festival of Jewish Film begins with a showing of The Crossing.

Purim is celebrated throughout Tidewater with Purimsphiels and cooking demonstrations over Zoom and some in-person Megillah readings.

The Jewish Museum and Cultural Center presents: A Closer Look at Charlottesville.

Israel closes its Mediterranean beaches to deal with what officials say may be the worst oil spill in the country’s history. The spill occurred around Feb. 11.


A phone application assistance and outreach program for people who need help registering for the COVID-19 vaccination is offered by Jewish Family Service.

NADIV Men’s Giving Circle of UJFT’s Young Adult Division holds its 3rd Annual Bracket Challenge Fundraiser.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria is the primary sponsor of one piece of legislation condemning Iran’s nuclear program. A bipartisan group of House members join Luria to introduce the resolution, which condemns Iran’s decision to enrich uranium to 20% purity.

Jewish Family Service receives a grant from Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation for $2,500 to purchase food for members of the community who might otherwise go hungry.



Tidewater celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut: Israel’s 73rd Independence Day on Sunday, April 18 at the Sandler Family Campus with a drive-through event for families in the afternoon and a drive-in movie for adults in the evening.

Ninety-nine paintings by local artist Lorraine Fink adorn the Leon Family Gallery at the Sandler Family Campus. Fink donates the proceeds from the auction to benefit visual arts programming at UJFT and Simon Family JCC.

Drawing a line between its mission of Holocaust remembrance and the ravages inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, the March of the Living honors Dr. Anthony Fauci with an award for “moral courage in medicine” on the eve of Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust commemoration day.

Tragedy hits Israel’s Mount Meron on Lag’bomer with the deaths of at least 45 revelers in a stampede on April 30.



In his proclamation marking Jewish American Heritage Month, President Joe Biden cites the precedents set by prominent Jews in politics this year and condemned the nation’s spike in antisemitism. Biden recognizes Douglas Emhoff and Chuck Schumer, saying this year Americans saw two historic firsts. “The Vice President take the oath of office alongside her Jewish spouse and a Jewish American become the first Majority Leader of the United States Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish American elected official in our Nation’s history.”

Norfolk and Virginia Beach Public Schools switch course and announce classes for the 2021-22 school year will begin on Thursday, September 9, 2021, easing the transition back to school for Jewish families, eliminating the conflict between the first day of school and Rosh Hashanah.

Danial Watts receives the annual Stein Family College Scholarship of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. He is the 13th recipient of the four-year scholarship, which provides up to $10,000 per year to a Jewish student in Tidewater. The scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of Arlene Stein.

After 11 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas agree to a “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire on Thursday, May 20.

UJFT’s Women’s Cabinet holds its first virtual Spring Lunch and installation on May 13. Mona Flax and Barbara Dudley are installed as co-chairs.

The Simon Family JCC’s annual Catch-and-Release Fishing Derby is held Sunday, May 23 on the Sandler Family Campus with 50 participants of all ages.

Strelitz International Academy first graders receive their first Siddur at the first in-person event of this school year.


A Biden administration official says the U.S. government supports restocking Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system after it was depleted by May’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Governor Ralph Northam tweets a condemnation of antisemitism: “Our country is seeing a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Freedom of religion is a founding pillar of this nation—and it applies to every faith. Hate against anyone because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship, has no home in Virginia, or in America.”

United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Jewish Family Service, and Beth Sholom Village hold Biennial meetings that include installation of officers and presentations of awards.

The first Sunday Fun Day takes place at the Simon Family JCC pool. More than 200 people enjoy perfect Tidewater weather, free treats, contests, prizes and plenty of swim time.

Temple Israel’s Men’s Club wins the Gold Torch Award during the weeklong Virtual International Men’s Club Convention.


Israel is the first country to offer a third COVID vaccine dose.

Pam Blais is named the first Only in America Hometown Hero by the National Museum of American Jewish History. Blais was nominated and chosen for the impact she made early in the COVID-19 pandemic with her initiative, the Pantry Box Project.

Strellitz International Academy receives full authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School Primary Years Programme.



Citing quarantine rules, Birthright cancels remaining summer trips to Israel.

In his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Joe Biden says that although he prefers diplomatic means to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he is not afraid to “turn to other options.”

PJ Library hosts an End of Summer Shabbat in partnership with UJFT’s Young Adult Division.

More than 80 people attend Sababa Social Club’s first event at the JCC pool.

A memorial service at Beth Sholom Village remembers those who had departed within the last year. Approximately 50 family members, loved ones, and local clergy gather for the Service of Remembrance.



The Super Sunday Community Campaign’s kickoff takes place at the Sandler Family Campus on Sunday, September 12.

A newly released survey by the Jewish Agency for Israel indicates that the world population of those who self-identify as Jews stands at about 15.2 million, an increase of 100,000 over last year.

The 33rd Annual Strelitz International Academy Golf Tournament, known as the Bob Josephberg Classic, takes place on Sept. 14. With the help of 99 sponsors, the tournament raises more than $152,000. 120 golfers participated, along with 25 volunteers.

The In [HEIR]instance Project meets with several groups for artistic salons. The conversations, along with others taking place throughout the region, are part of a process that asks people to share personal insights as inspiration and material for a final play that will premiere at the Virginia Arts Festival in 2022.


The Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund presents two powerful conversations on mental health with guest Stephen Fried, an investigative journalist and best-selling author of A Common Struggle.

Jewish Family Service and Beth Sholom Village welcomes LHC Group to Tidewater, as the new owners of Freda H. Gordon Hospice and Palliative Care of Tidewater.

The Sandler Family Foundation celebrates 25 years of charitable giving at its Sam & Reba Sandler Annual Foundation Golf Tournament on October 5.

Members of Nadiv, the Young Men’s Giving Circle through UJFT’s Young Adult Division, lead the Jewish community in a cleanup of Mikro Kodesh cemetery in Chesapeake.



Israeli glass artist Dafna Kaffeman visits the Chrysler Museum with an exhibit, as well as demonstrations. UJFT’s Israel Today partners with Chrysler Museum’s Perry Glass Studio to showcase the artist.

An American Jewish Committee survey finds that antisemitism fears prompted 4 in 10 American Jews to change their behavior last year.

The Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival celebrates National Jewish Book Month with a variety of visiting authors…both in-person and via Zoom.

Toras Chaim observes Veterans Day with Craig Schranz, a Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, sharing information with the students on the makeup of the Armed forces and the history of Veterans Day.


Congregation Beth El celebrates its 171st anniversary and Hanukkah with a concert by Six13, an a cappella group. More than 400 attend the community-wide event.

Norfolk native and Virginia Beach resident Ed Shames, a ‘Band of Brothers’ veteran, dies at the age of 99. His passing makes national news.

 –Terri Denison