What did I learn in 5780 that I will take into 5781?
I have a love-hate relationship with Zoom.
The irony is that the Zoom platform allowed our Federation team to move effectively into virtual remote working and to engage the hearts of this community to raise more than $4.3 million for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund in about six weeks!
The downside of Zoom is not simply the “fatigue” of relating to people in a “Hollywood Squares” grid every day. I am someone who believes that relationships and human interactions are everything. I miss seeing people; I miss the depth of panim-al-panim (face-to-face) conversations. My prayer for 5781 is that we restore those precious human connections.
Atlanta has incredibly talented Jewish communal professionals.
It’s not a brag; it’s the truth. The seemingly overnight pivot to remote working increased the workload of every single Jewish professional in town and tested their creativity. It wasn’t overnight; our IT and planning professionals anticipated lockdown and were prepared.
As the Jewish community’s “convener,” Federation reached out to our partners to discern the dimensions of community pain points. Loss of jobs. Isolation. Food insecurity. Lack of PPE. Family stress. With input from our professionals, we were able to assess community needs and quickly grant out funds from the Emergency Response Fund that prioritized people first.
Not even a pandemic can break our bonds.
Our community responds passionately in a crisis. Rather than everyone turning inward and focusing on their own challenges, we come together. The efforts we have made to build a culture of collaboration have paid dividends. Our agencies have worked closely and creatively together to address all the complexities this crisis has created. But this didn’t just happen because of the crisis. I will take into 5781 the idea that intention is the key to building a community culture that is resilient and unbreakable.
Eric M. Robbins is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.