OK so truth be told we nicked this picture from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (and yes, for anyone who’s ever been there, we know the city of Angels does sprawl, but clearly not quite as far as this side of the Pacific). Their theme was 8 real life miracles we created in 2015, and seeing as so many of their miracles sounded familiar, it seemed like a pretty good way to celebrate the achievements of our community this year too, so here goes:
- Empower: JCA’s Observership Program has gone from strength to strength, empowering a new generation of community leaders and activists. Though it is not the primary goal of the program, some 20 graduates (out of nearly 100) have gone on to become full-time board members in our community, and others are working on a myriad of innovative communal projects.
- Heal: So I looked it up in the dictionary, and this is what it said: /hiːl/; verb: cause (a wound, injury, or person) to become sound or healthy again; alleviate (a person’s distress or anguish). Once again this year, one of JCA’s founding members, Wolper Jewish Hospital, delivered on its mission of providing the absolute best in rehabilitation and palliative care to our community and way way beyond. And once again Wolper, in its most communally-minded way, did not request an allocation from JCA and instead provided significant funding for communal health-related projects from its own surpluses and endowment.
- Strengthen: Regrettably, again this year our CSG has had to look to strengthen our defences as we have watched insanity unfold from Paris to San Bernadino. But at the same time our NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has spent an incredible year strengthening our relationships with other communities and friends.
- Help: Thanks to your support our JewishCare has this year helped hundreds of families in crisis, as well as our aged, and those in our community dealing with mental health and disability. An absolute highlight this (and every) year, was being at the closing concert for Camp Sababa and Sababa Lagamba earlier this week. There is so much more to do, but it is good to know that our JewishCare is there to help. Of course helping is also what JCA’s aged care constituents do every day and this year thanks to your support through JCA, thousands of our community’s frail and elderly have benefited from the wonderful work of Montefiore, the Burger Centre, B’nai B’rith Retirement Villages, and COA Sydney (check out the Hannukah party photos on their Facebook page – and please don’t tell me that COA is on Facebook and you’re not!).
- Teach: Thanks in part to your support of our community through JCA, some 3,300 students were able to be taught at our wonderful Jewish schools: Emanuel, Moriah, Mount Sinai, Masada and Kesser Torah. JCA’s support of the Board of Jewish Education, and the Board of Progressive Jewish Education, helped to teach a further 2,000 students what it means to be Jewish. And at the same time our Sydney Jewish Museum has been able to teach a record 23,000 school kids about the Shoah.
- Connect: Our inaugural 10×10 event saw a fantastic group of young adults at LinkedIn (you can’t get more connected than that) stepping up to support some of the most innovative programs our community has on offer: PJ Library, Mum For Mum, and Sababa Lagamba, all of which are supported by you through JCA, and all of which are about making and deepening connection.
- Build: Well this year our community didn’t build anything in terms of bricks and mortar, but the annual “capital appeal slot” was given over to what has been perhaps our most ambitious endowment project ever: Y2i. This unique collaboration of JCA, UIA, JNF, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and ECAJ has seen nearly $10m committed to ensuring every child who completes year 10 has the opportunity to go on an organised educational trip to Israel. At this very moment 224 young students are in Israel, building relationships, strong Jewish identities and the future of our community.
- Support: We’ve saved the best to last. We still have a little way to go until we close the books at midnight on 31 December (and it’s never too late to DONATE), but we are incredibly humbled and honoured to announce that this year we have received a record quantum of pledges, totalling more than $14m to fund all of the organisations and programs above and so very much more. All thanks to your support.
Of course all of the above was as a result of an incredible team effort, and there are so many to thank. However there is one person who deserves particular thanks, and who wants none. And that is outgoing Fundraising Chair and Vice President Michael Graf. Michael has certainly gone out on a high (literally, the highest ever fundraising result in JCA history). This is the Michael Graph:
During Michael’s time as Appeal Chair, $64m has been raised by JCA for the benefit of our community, an incredible achievement in anyone’s books. On top of that, having sat for 8 years on JCA’s Executive Committee, Fundraising Committee, Board of Governors and given countless hours of selfless work and devotion to our community, we also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Lianne Graf for sharing Michael with us (and countless kosher fish dinners).
JCA’s office staff in particular will be so sorry not to have Michael’s gentle and generous energy in our daily lives. But all is not lost (to our community). We are so very happy to be able to wish a heart Mazal Tov to both Michael, and the Montefiore Home, on his election this week, to their board. It is wonderful to see cross-pollination of leadership between JCA and our member organisations, and can only help in strengthening the bonds which make our community so strong and cohesive. And it is so very fitting that Michael is in the vanguard of these moves. On behalf of JCA’s Board of Governors, Executive Committee, staff and indeed our entire community, we thank Michael for his service and congratulate him on his new role.
And so that concludes 2015 for @jcatoday. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making 2015 such an incredible year, and has helped to ensure that our community remains sustainable, vibrant and secure. We will be recharging our batteries and getting ready for JCA 2016. Where we get to do it all again. Only better.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah,
Daniel Grynberg, CEO
PS. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the latest version of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song.