A Sweet New Year

As we are coming to the end of one year and beginning the next Jewish new year, we are reflective and outward-looking, excited and apathetic, hopeful and pessimistic at the same time.  We live in a complicated world, and all too often we miss the beauty of life and the people around us.

Today I received a series of reminders of the value and importance of what we do and the meaning of the JEA and Federation.  The day began when Preschool Director, Jodi Sadler forwarded me a letter from one of her parents who is moving from the area:

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for loving ____ the way she deserves to be loved. The last 2 1/2 years with the JEA has truly been a safe space given how the JEA handled Covid.

When Covid happened, I began to question myself as to whether I should send _____ to school. Based on how the leadership managed the pandemic I knew that those questions were unnecessary.

I have the highest level of trust in the JEA teachers and leadership. It allowed us to form a community in an area where we had no existing community. It also allowed _____ to begin her early Jewish understanding of her heritage. There’s not enough words for me to express my gratitude for these last few years. My only regret is that ______(their other child) unfortunately is not going to have the same experience

A simple letter from a parent focused me on what we do and the meaning to our members, families, and community.

Soon thereafter I saw Michelle Allan walk in the building with additional bins for Operation Isaiah.  The bin that we had in the JEA lobby is already overflowing with food contributions made from generous community members to help others who are food insecure.

A few hours later it was on to Food for Thought to hear Carolyn Zalesne talk about writing your stories and publishing.  A number of people stayed on after the presentation to talk with Carolyn reinforcing how excellent her presentation was….they wanted to know even more!

I was thrilled to watch Sarah Docar who admirably runs the program.  Our regular cook, Chef Danny was on vacation, so Sarah rolled up her sleeves, set up the room, cooked a delicious BBQ chicken meal, served it, introduced the speaker, cleaned up and then put it all away.  She has taken the program and made it even better, and what was once a Federation program is now Sarah’s Federation program.

In between we consulted with a member of the community who needed help for their Rosh Hashanah meals and assisted a number of clients battling cancer thanks to the generosity of the Hollenberg Fund.

It was only a little later that over 80 children arrived at the JEA.  Bus after bus, pulled up and children alit from different schools excitedly coming through the doors for another great AfterSchool with DJ Horton, Jackie Laban, and their great staff.  It’s not just childcare and snacks until Mom or Dad picks up, it’s caring, love, learning, cooperation, experiences and more.  Today, Savannah Bee ran a program for the children featuring honey, the delicious nectar that symbolizes the sweetness of the new year.  Just another of the creative programs that they provide.

And soon there were parents picking up, families coming in for swim lessons, volleyball players, lap swimmers, and others going to the Fitness facilities.

The evening ended with STOP THE BLEED training which was provided by Memorial Hospital’s EMS Coordinator/Clinical Educator of Trauma Services, Keith Dawson.  Having taken the class, I feel prepared if, God forbid, there is a circumstance with traumatic bleeding.  It’s not just if there is a shooter or a terror incident, it’s if something happens in everyday life.

Sitting at my desk writing this late on Thursday evening, I reflect on all the lives we touched in the last 12 hours and I have a smile on my face and a great feeling of satisfaction.  It was a good day.

5782 was a pretty good year and there’s no limit to what we all can accomplish in 5783.

On behalf of the Officers, Boards, and Staff of the Savannah Jewish Federation and Jewish Educational Alliance,

I wish you a new year filled with hope, happiness, and love;
I wish you good health, unique experiences, and wonderous curiosity; and
I wish us all security, satisfaction, and a repaired and peaceful world.
Shabbat Shalom
Shana Tova U’Metukah, a Happy and Sweet New Year.