CEO Letter 3.12.21

By Jenn Ross


It has been a year like no other since this pandemic caused a three month shutdown and continues to impact everyone’s lives dramatically. 


Recently the U.S. death toll due to COVID surpassed 500,000.  Although it is challenging to grasp the number, by now most of us have been personally impacted by someone who succumbed to this dreadful disease.  My heart broke to learn that a national colleague of mine who is around my age lost a second brother to COVID.  My prayers extend to everyone suffering from the loss of a loved one and dealing with the emotional and financial challenges of this pandemic.


I have a few documents posted on my office wall to help me focus on the mission of our Federation and JCC and give me strength during challenging times. Two are words of wisdom from Brené Brown on integrity and connection.  One is the result of a six-words memoir exercise that I participated in during my Awareness in Action practice with JCC CEO colleagues in which we needed to describe ourselves in six words (Community Connector, Responsive Resource, Compassionate, Growth).  The final one is guidance shared in our March 1, 2019 edition in the eulogy written by Bob Rosenschein for his dear mother of blessed memory. I hope it gives you comfort:


Five Lessons from Yolanda Rosenschein, z”l

  1. Choose to be happy and work hard at it.
  2. If you want others to smile, then you must smile.
  3. Find meaning in loving your family and friends.
  4. Accept others the way they are, even strangers. Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.
  5. Discover your own faith: not the one that’s easy but the one you’ve wrestled with, nurtured, and, in your darkest moments, doubted.


Several team members and I recently attended a regional JCC Zoom conference where another piece of helpful advice was offered. When you are having a challenging or chaotic day and are feeling frustrated, stop everything for ten minutes and reflect upon something meaningful, however simple it was, that you did that helped someone.  Our human interactions, including virtual ones on Zoom, over the phone, by email, or snail mail are more impactful than previously. And even though the mask obscures our lips, I think you can tell if someone is smiling, so following Yolanda’s second lesson is still just as beneficial.


Thank you for being a special part of this new normal.  Always reach out to me if you have something to share or if I can be of assistance at 717-236-9555 x3104 and


I have high hopes for our future.  I am excited about my new colleague Jonah Geller, who began his tenure at CEO of the York JCC in December. Jonah has a great background in Jewish summer camps and is a natural for his JCC.  Jonah toured our JCC in February and I am already enjoying working with him.  Mazel tov and best wishes Jonah!