CEO Letter 5.8.20

By Jenn Ross

During this quarantine, I’ve been seeking guidance from my national associations and colleagues at other Federations, JCCs and Community Relations Councils to ensure I am serving you and the community effectively during this challenging time. I’ve also been learning from leadership gurus, including Robin Sharma, who inspired me at a conference I attended many years ago.

Robin contrasts victims as individuals who take from the world, focus on excuses, live in the past, are busy being busy, and say “can’t.”  By contrast, heroes give to the world, deliver results, work towards a heroic future, are monomaniacally focused, and say “can.”  I have been impressed by the numerous local heroes who have found ways to serve our community and/or identified creative ways to build community.

Thank you again to the amazing people I work with at the Federation who have brought the JCC to our homes!  I’ve felt connected to Judaism and normalcy through online services.  Although I didn’t personally host or attend a zoom Seder, all of your photos and discussions impressed me. Likewise, I enjoyed reading Connie Siegel’s recounting of his two-person Seder along with a history of past communal events and supermarkets in Harrisburg. You can read it on our new online Community Review developed by Adam Grobman who has kept us all in “the know” through a multitude of initiatives at Don’t worry – you will still continue to receive the print version at home!

It was joyous and hopeful attending Michael Chotiner’s Bar Mitzvah by livestream and Noah Levin’s bris on zoom.  Thank you to Lillian Rappaport and Temple Beth Shalom for coordinating our 24-hour Reading of the Names which was held on Zoom and simulcast on Facebook Live.  

The Silver Academy has kept its students busy with online learning from the first week of its closure.  John Jantos and his team of JFS volunteers continue to deliver Kosher Meals on Wheels in partnership with the food preparation at the Jewish Home.  Dan Ocko coordinated delivery of Passover food to numerous individuals and families in our community.  As noted in the prior edition of Community Review, Chana Tillman coordinated food donations to some of our Brenner Family Early Learning Center families.  Terri Travers coordinated a virtual J-Serve of volunteer opportunities for teens.

This is just a snapshot of the bright lights I have encountered. I hope you have been equally inspired.  Some of my colleagues from other communities have pronounced that our best days are ahead.  We have an opportunity to make this true.

I pray for those stricken with this unprecedented virus which includes my friend and colleague Barry Stein.  His wife Susie has been bravely and honorably sharing details of Barry’s challenges and hopefully his recovery in the hopes that others will gain medical insights and understand the severity of COVID-19 on its victims and loved ones.  Thank you, Susie.

Please stay safe and healthy. Please contact me at if you need anything or have any feedback.