Agencies Share Stories of Success at Virtual JAAM

By Adam Grobman

On October 28th, representatives from Harrisburg’s Jewish Agencies shared stories of success and challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Joint Agency Annual Meeting (JAAM).

This year’s JAAM was held via Zoom and the program was introduced by Rabbi Ariana Capptauber of Beth El Temple.

Allen Geckle, CEO of the Campus of the Jewish Home, reported that while the Campus has faced obstacles as a result of the pandemic, they are navigating those obstacles successfully.

“The pandemic has created challenges for everyone in one way or another,” he said. “I am proud of our preparations and execution in response to the pandemic.”

As the incoming chair of the Jewish Community Foundation, Michael Doctrow shared that the Foundation has several new and existing funds to respond to the pandemic, addressing food insecurity, technology needs for seniors, and Holocaust education.

Vice-chair Maggie Grotzinger touted the success of the Legacy program, which has secured an estimated $22 million for the future of Jewish institutions in our area.

“Our community as a whole is stronger because we have worked together,” she said. “An important mission of our Foundation is to ensure that we continue to inspire community members to pay it forward by sustaining Jewish life now and for future generations.

Jewish Family Service’s Board Chair Bob Woolf introduced new Executive Director, Steve Schauder, who began in the role this Fall. Steve’s remarks focused on the rising demand for mental health assistance, noting that JFS therapy services are currently at capacity.

“Our greatest challenge today is to meet the unmet mental health crisis in our community,” he said, adding that he had received a warm welcome to Harrisburg and “it’s an honor to join both JFS and this incredibly vibrant community.”

Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg Board Chair Abby Smith shared the success of both virtual and in-person JCC programming, noting that the JCC has continued to see a rise in in-person participation since welcoming members back beginning in June and July.

“As we look ahead, we are focused on providing safe programming to all our members,” she said, continuing that the priority is to address the “emotional wellbeing of our community and serving the variety of needs.”

The Silver Academy celebrated its safe return to the classrooms and incredible growth, with thirteen new families (with a total of nineteen new students) joining the school.

“It’s wonderful that we have such a vibrant school this year,” said Emily Halper, Board Chair. “We are very proud to be able to offer in-person, full-time learning.”

In addition to remarks from board members and executives of each agency, volunteers and award winners were honored during the program, as well as staff who had reached milestones or retired.

For full reports and award winners, see the October 23rd edition of Community Review. To view the full JAAM program, visit Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg’s Youtube channel.