From Our CEO
Always Ready
July 2nd, 2021

This week marked the end of UJA’s fiscal year and the close of our 2021 Annual Campaign. While the dollars raised are still being tallied, it’s clear that this will be one of the highest campaign totals in our history. Beyond the numbers raised, it’s a moment to reflect on what we’ve made possible with and for our community. Most important, it’s an opportunity to thank those whose generosity supports all that we do.

Because in a year that saw the ground beneath our feet shift again and again — we were ready.

When we witnessed a staggering explosion in social services needs, we opened our flagship Queens Hub and six neighborhood satellite hubs, each offering an array of services — including job training, legal counseling, case management, and food pantries — from multiple network partners, all under one roof.

At the same time, we dramatically increased funding to our Jewish institutions to help ensure their long-term viability. As restrictions lifted, we helped summer camps and Jewish day schools reopen safely. When vaccines became available, we leveraged our vast network and relationships to move the needle (literally). From coordinating pop-up vaccine sites to supporting education in hesitant communities, we played a crucial role in getting vulnerable New Yorkers vaccinated.

Now with the city reopening, it feels like the darkness for many is lifting at last. But as the Covid crisis abates, another has risen. Following the conflict in Israel, we’re experiencing rising antisemitism in our own backyard, this time tied to virulent anti-Israel sentiment. Voices condemning this violence and hateful rhetoric have been shockingly muted, compelling us to respond with significantly heightened advocacy, security, and education.

What positions UJA to impact diverse arenas all at once — social services, Jewish life, and crisis response here and around the world — is our annual campaign. It’s the annual campaign that sustains an unparalleled network of agencies and seeds innovative start-ups — enabling these nonprofit partners to respond immediately in times of crisis. The annual campaign is why when the pandemic shut down life, when rockets rained on Israel, when antisemitism struck at home, we had the infrastructure to respond on multiple fronts.

From our earliest days, UJA’s annual campaign has represented a sacred expression of communal responsibility. It says: I give because I'm part of a community, with an obligation to help in any way I can — and with the recognition that if someday I need help, I know where to turn.

I thank every one of you who gave to our 2021 Annual Campaign, entrusting UJA to make critical funding decisions on your behalf. I thank our incredibly dedicated volunteer leaders — led by our incomparable president, Amy Bressman, and chair of the board, David Moore — who've guided the organization through these tumultuous waters, steering the use of emergency funds on multiple occasions quickly and strategically. And I am deeply moved and inspired by our professional staff who worked heroically throughout the year to help address seemingly insurmountable challenges.

As we close out this year and prepare to celebrate July 4th, I could not be more grateful for your support. Whatever comes next — you’re the reason we’ll always be ready.

Shabbat shalom and Happy July 4th!