CEO Letter 12.3.21

By Jenn Ross

Happy Chanukah! This time of year is always exciting, with celebrations, connection with community, and other “small miracles” that bring light to the darkness of winter.

Blue Dove Foundation’s “Eight Nights of Gratitude” campaign calls on us to stop and reflect on miracles in our own lives – here are some that come to mind for me this year:

  1. The Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life. Our future campus is an inspiring point of light for our community – one that has taken several miracles to get to this stage: that the Dixon Center became available; Abby Smith and a team of lay leaders developed a competitive bid that was accepted; the generosity of the Alexander Grass Foundation to make this possible. We are sure to encounter many more miracles along the way and emerge with a wonderful new home for our community.
  2. Our amazing staff.  Without the dedication of our entire team, we would not have been able to serve the community throughout this tireless pandemic. I have been blessed to interact directly with staff, our families, members, and the community and feel a strong sense of normalcy.
  3. Our volunteers. Thank you to our board for their leadership; all of our fitness and senior club volunteers for supporting our programming; our campaign solicitors for helping us raise the funds to serve the community; our CRC co-chairs and members for their guidance on legislative and community matters; and for the wisdom of our Medical Advisory Team.
  4. Our community Rabbis. Thank you for being our spiritual leaders always, but especially during this challenging time. Your resilience and continual ability to pivot through daily rituals, simchas, and times of need is a blessing.
  5. Outstanding local Jewish Agencies. I am blessed to work with leaders including Allen Geckle, Paulette Keifer, Samara Sofian, and Steven Schauder who lead our local Jewish agencies which serve our community through the work of their outstanding staff and volunteers. I also appreciate the leadership of Bill Walter, Director of Beth El Temple, who participates in our director meetings, and Hank Butler who directs the PA Jewish Coalition providing advocacy support for our state’s Federations and Jewish institutions.
  6. National Associations. Support from Jewish Federations of North America and JCC Association has an impact on our entire community. From programs like JCulture and Human Services Matching Fund, to guidance on funding opportunities, legislative issues, and security, these resources inform much of the work of the Federation and our peer organizations.  Thank you Jewish Council for Public Affairs for providing guidance on legislative issues, for convening us, and for your vast educational offerings
  7. Interfaith friendships.  It is a joy to work with and connect with leaders and congregants from numerous faiths in our region. Thank you to your support for the Jewish community in times of need and throughout the year.
  8. You! Last but not least, we could not accomplish our work without your generous financial support, your membership and/or participation in our programming, your kindness, and patience.

I am fortunate to have many additional things to be grateful for.  Jewish Harrisburg is my treasured home because of the wonderful people I interact with daily.

Hope you have a meaningful, festive, and bright holiday! I can be reached at or 717-236-9555 x3104.