Big plans for the year ahead

I rarely write about Federation Board meetings, but we had a lively and productive meeting this past Wednesday and I want to share with you some of what we discussed.


This year and the next will bring several important milestones to Israel and world Jewry. In June we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem. Next year, Israel will be turning 70 years young. Last night the Board discussed how to mark this important anniversary and decided to explore the possibility of a community mission to Israel in the spring of 2018 to coincide with the birthday celebrations. The Federation hasn't had a community mission to Israel in a while, and we thought this would be an auspicious time to do it. More information will be coming as we continue with planning. Stay tuned.


As you may know, last year Federation awarded about $100,000 in collaborative community grants. Some of the granted programs took place in 2015-16, such as the first Israel Independence Day celebration at the Rosen JCC and a Kristallnacht theater production, and others are ongoing. Among them are JFS of Greater Orlando's expanded holiday meal delivery and transportation for seniors, as well as its signature community rabbi program. In addition to these grants, we have been awarding about $10,000 annually to teen Jewish education programs at synagogues. High school students traveling to Israel can count on a scholarship from Federation's Colman Israel Travel Scholarship Fund.

We have received multiple responses from the agencies thanking us for the grants and telling us how they have enhanced their services. At the previous Board meeting, we heard from a teenager who visited Israel last summer with the help of Federation's scholarship. It was clear that the trip has changed his life and ignited the love of Israel in him. Encouraged by the success of the grants process, the Board last night decided to have a new round of grant-making this spring/early summer. The parameters of the grants and other details will be announced shortly. I look forward to working with the Grants Committee and the community on this exciting project again.


We also had an extensive discussion about the Bornstein Leadership Development Program. Since its inception in 1991, the program has educated and cultivated 150 community leaders who are now involved in local, national and international organizations. Today, we are seeing dramatic generational changes in society and in the Jewish community. I think that even the concept of a leader today is very different than it was 10 or 20 years ago. The changes we are looking to make to the Bornstein Program will allow it to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the young people who will become its leaders in just a few years.


All of this is made possible with your generous support of the Federation's Annual Campaign. If you haven't made your contribution yet, watch your mailbox for a special Passover mailing soon, or make your gift today online!


Thank you and Shabbat Shalom,

Olga Yorish
Executive Director