This year Israel experienced many challenges such as on and off pandemic related travel restrictions burdening the economy, a major escalation of hostilities with Hamas, and continued threats from Iran. There were positive developments as well, such as new business opportunities as a result of the Abraham accords, unprecedented security agreements with Arab countries, and as a result of a 4th election, the most diverse coalition government in history including for the first time ever with an Orthodox Prime Minister and an Israeli-Arab party.
The pandemic presented challenges physically connecting Jews in the heart of NJ with the land and people of Israel, but Jewish Federation continued to facilitate connections through online platforms providing access to multiple webinars, Zoom calls and Facebook Live events as well as supporting teen trips to Israel during the summer when COVID restrictions were temporarily lifted.
- Jewish Federation produced together with tour guide Moshe Gold a History of Modern Israel Virtual Course exploring 100 years in the Land of Israel, using Google Maps, Google Street view, and other visual aids.
- As mentioned above, with the help of Jewish Federation grants, this summer over 40 heart of NJ teens were able to travel to Israel on organized youth trips.
- As a response to negative opinions about Israel and the Jewish people, Federation created a resource page to assist community members in countering false narratives and misinformation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- Federation published a monthly e-newsletter with important news affecting the Jewish community in Israel and around the globe including news updates, advocacy initiatives in support of Israel as well as educational and cultural programming from around the world.*
- Jewish Federation maintained a constant flow of information to the community during the 11 days of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, monitoring local and federal politicians' statements and challenging them when appropriate for being one-sided.
- Dan Rozett, Manager of Community, and Israel Engagement spoke to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences of all ages about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, BDS, Israeli innovation, current efforts in the peace process and more.
- Jewish Federation produced a heart of NJ Community Yom Hazikaron Commemoration with tour guide Moshe Gold, live from Israel, coinciding with the start of Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) in Israel, honoring Israeli soldiers and civilians who fell in defense of the Jewish homeland.
- Federation supported the Axelrod Performing Arts Center Israel Jewish Film Festival with an award-winning lineup.
National and Global Partners:
- The heart of NJ, together with Israeli Olympic hopefuls, Jewish athletes from around the world, celebrity guests, and world leaders, virtually celebrated Israel’s 73rd Independence Day as well as bid farewell to His Excellency, Reuven Rivlin, who completed his term as Israel's tenth president, at the Jewish Federations of North America’s Worldwide Celebration of Israel's Independence Day.
- The community was able to participate in virtual programming provided by the Government of Israel, The Jewish Agency, the JDC and other national partners addressing the geopolitical challenges in the Middle East, the Abraham Accords, Aliya to Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the threat from Iran and more.
Looking towards 2021, Jewish Federation will continue to work with our local, national, and global partners to keep the heart of NJ connected to the Jewish homeland through virtual events and programs and hopefully, as soon as possible, in person. Keep an eye out for what comes next!