My Dear Friends:
Last June, at the annual meeting of the Federation, I announced my intention to retire in June, 2016. After serving almost 30 years at the Federation, “yomam v’laila”, day and often deep into the night, I maintain the same passion and sense of commitment as the first time I walked into the office on Whalley Avenue in July 1988.
Confucius has suggested that if you “choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.” Over the course of my tenure at the Federation – first as principal of MAKOM, the community Hebrew High School, then as the director of the Department of Jewish Education, later the executive director of the Federation and, now, as the CEO of the merged Federation and JCC, I have been very fortunate that my personal, professional, intellectual and spiritual lives have been fully integrated into a perfect harmony.
I did not actually “choose” to move from Jewish education into the position of head of our community, but it has been my great privilege to represent our children, our elderly, our agencies, our synagogues, and the Jews of Greater New Haven from Milford to Madison, from Cheshire to Chester, and all points in between. This is the community where I was born, the community where I raised my six children, the community I believe in, sometimes more than it believes in itself, the community I love.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have had to meet, to teach, and to learn from so many of you. As Steve Jobs once said: “We don’t get a chance to be that many things, and every one should be excellent, because this is our life…it better be worth it.”
And the Jewish people, Jewish ethics and values, and our community are profoundly worthwhile and deserve excellence. Your volunteerism, generosity and dedication allows us the rare prospect to vision, to shape and to implement a stronger, better, more inclusive synergy. We can take enormous pride in our accomplishments and put our creativity, energy and commitment into planning and implementing a revitalized Jewish New Haven.
It has been a source of satisfaction and joy for me to have partnered with you, in some small way, in assisting the Federation to more fully realize itself as a caring community and garner the heart-share of our constituents.
I have learned the truth of what Indian poet Rabindranth Tagore wrote:
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I woke and found that life was service
I acted and behold – service was joy.”
Now, we must work together not just to choose our next leader but for each of us to consider how we can help develop sites of true creativity, profound meaning and vibrant connectivity. We are poised for success; we have strong rabbinic leadership and the best group of executive directors at our agencies that I have ever seen. The Federation system can remain a potent force in Jewish life because we help Jews come together and create a big impact for innovation. Our tradition’s sense of responsibility for one another and for repairing the world is as old as our history and as bright as what lies before us. There is a sacred past and the fulfillment of glorious promise ahead.
The President of the Federation, Dr. Stephanie Wain, has asked Dr. Norman Ravski to chair a search committee. They have put together a strong, thoughtful group of people who represent the many facets of our community. I feel confident that they will work diligently to find just the right person to be the next CEO of the Federation.
I thank you all for your friendship, advice, support and dedication to our joint endeavor. I have treasured every single day and endeavored to serve our community with all my heart, with all my soul and all my might.
Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven