July 27th, 2020

As we enter our fifth month of life in a pandemic, it has become clear that the world as we once knew it has changed dramatically and permanently. We have been given the opportunity to reflect on our values and priorities and for many of us this will result in a dramatic recalibration. The importance and primacy of our immediate and extended families has been highlighted. The value of friendship and Community reaffirmed. We have learned in many ways to slow down, to appreciate the blessings of our lives and to take pleasure from simple joys.

Our Montreal Jewish Community has taken a parallel journey. The importance and power of a collective gift has never, in our lifetime, been demonstrated so clearly. Federation CJA was able to coordinate community-wide efforts quickly, efficiently and effectively. The existence of a well balanced and strong infrastructure and relationships with our Agencies and other Community partners allowed us to pivot, mobilizing all our resources to meet the most pressing needs created by the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Today we are faced with a "new normal". COVID -19 is likely to remain a threat for another 12-18 months and we must as a Community move from an immediate crisis response and adjust to life with a pandemic. In this new climate, more then ever, we will have to reprioritize and adapt our funding model to be even more laser-focused. We have already significantly reduced allocations, and taken the responsible position of funding agencies on a month-to-month basis instead of through committed allocations, ensuring that funds are directed to the needs of the current crisis. And now we must turn our attention to our recovery and resilience. We must continue to support our vulnerable, we must help the newly vulnerable get back on their feet and we must ensure the survival of our Jewish life and institutions. And we must meet these rapidly increasing needs with increasingly limited resources.

As we closed our 2019 Campaign, and before the onset of the pandemic (a lifetime ago) it was clear that we faced significant challenges, and a contraction of our allocations and streamlining of our activities was essential. The impact of COVID-19 has reinforced the necessity of these changes and the urgency of implementation has been dramatically amplified.

The Board of Directors has continued its work developing a new strategic plan. The primary goal has been to evaluate the community landscape, determine our most important priorities and adjust our funding model to best impact those needs. We need to act quickly and decisively to ensure our community survives and thrives.

An important element of the strategic planning process has been a series of community consultations that have already begun. The Board has been convening various groups in a series of virtual community consultations. These zoom meetings allow stakeholders, partners , community members, and both lay and professional leadership to feed into the process, sharing their perspectives to help inform the strategic plan which will ultimately form the basis of the decisions we make to ensure that our greatest priorities are met.

As much as the pandemic has created challenges, it has also created opportunities, and there is no question that it has been a uniting force. Regardless of background or personal interests, we all understand that our priorities must be looking after our most vulnerable and ensuring our institutions remain viable so that the next generation can benefit from the same strong community that we all have. Now more than ever, everyone needs to work together and pull in the same direction.

I invite you all to review our draft Vision and Mission statements as well as our 3 most important priorities and to participate in this critical strategic process by participating in a brief and anonymous Community Survey. You can also reach out to me at [email protected] and share your perspective. I look forward to hearing from you!

Wishing you and your loved ones continued good health,

Gail Adelson-Marcovitz

Gail Adelson-Marcovitz
President
Federation CJA

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