Hope for a brighter tomorrow

A Rosh HashanahHigh Holiday message from our President, Gail Adelson-Marcovitz.

September 25th, 2020

As we bring in the New Year it is, as always, an opportunity to look back and reflect and to consider our intentions and hopes for the upcoming year. This year has been unusual, to say the least, and totally unexpected. Perhaps there is a lesson in that as well. I remember a saying my grandmother would share with me, " Man plans and G-d laughs...".

As the 2019 Campaign came to a close last fall, we recognized that our fiduciary responsibility to this community required a significant and permanent reduction in our allocation footprint in order to ensure the long term sustainability of our programs and services and our funding commitments to our agencies and partners.

As we prepared to adopt a dramatically reduced budget, we were completely blind sided by the arrival of COVID -19. Literally overnight, Canadian borders closed and the city of Montreal went into lockdown. Our seniors were forced into isolation, thousands of community members became ill and far too many did not survive. Businesses shuttered, schools closed, jobs were lost, anxiety and loneliness spiralled . Ensuring food security for our most vulnerable became an urgent challenge.

Like other communities around the world, we quickly pivoted to address the critical needs created by the crisis, moving to a month- to- month allocation model.

Together with our agencies and community partners, we dramatically reduced our expenses and redirected our human and financial resources to support those who were already vulnerable and those who became temporarily vulnerable. Working with an army of volunteers, we delivered food vouchers and Passover baskets, prepared meals and baked goods, selected groceries and delivered them, prepared and delivered activity bags for isolated seniors and care packages for frontline medical workers.

We quickly learned to adapt to our new normal, combining home offices with virtual learning, having Zoom meetings and house party cocktails. Our worlds narrowed to immediate family as we identified our "pods". The long days of summer saw a relaxation in the stringent rules of isolation and we enjoyed each encounter with fresh appreciation. But as the days shorten once again, the temperature drops and infection rates start to rise, we suspect that a return to isolation is inevitable.

And though there has been much loss and sacrifice these last six months, there has also been a true sense of community that has been heartwarming to witness. A real sense of pulling together to solve our problems. A power in the collective. It has been the greatest period of cooperation and trust we have ever experienced. In an environment of uncertainty, where there were more questions than answers, we moved forward together to address the needs in front of us.

This has also been a period of opportunity and innovation. We have learned to use the internet to connect with one another and we have come to understand that our ability to support and comfort are not inextricably linked with our ability to physically touch. We have had to dig deeper to find solutions and approach problems in new ways.

And I have never been prouder of my Jewish community and its resilience and commitment to emerge from this crisis leaner, stronger and even more vibrant than before. The power and strength of the Jewish community has always been most evident when faced with adversity. Our ability to work together to address a common threat has been nothing short of exceptional. Our collective commitment and responsibility for each other has never been stronger and will, I hope, continue to frame our work moving forward.

As we enter this New Year, let us all resolve to continue our efforts together, in a spirit of collaboration and trust. I know that together, we will find solutions to the most immediate challenges and critical priorities facing our community.

And with my hope for a brighter tomorrow, I wish you all a joyous year, shared with family and friends, and most importantly, continued good health.

Shana Tova U'metuka, Gmar Chatima Tova


Gail Adelson-Marcovitz
Federation CJA

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