March 2020 E-news Letter

To our JCRC/AJC family,

Today I wish to express gratitude. Honestly, it’s hard to find gratitude in these moments of chaos and confusion, fear and uncertainty. But on Monday night, I was able to go on Zoom and participate in the Glazer Institute’s program, which we were a partner on, listening to one of my favorite authors, Yossi Klein Halevi, as he sat in his apartment in Jerusalem. I have been able to join rabbis from all over the community while they lead different prayer services on Facetime Live; my son has been able to continue his Mandarin coursework by studying with a native Chinese speaker in Europe; and my daughter has had the opportunity to draw along with acclaimed author Mo Willems. The technology that I have been known to curse for invading every aspect of life is now enabling us to stay connected even as the virus demands that we stay, physically, apart.

From our perspective at JCRC/AJC, we have:

  • been using technology to allow our staff to work remotely. This way we can continue to accomplish the mission of this agency without endangering anyone;
  • uncapped our staff’s sick time so they can be confident that even if they are stricken with this virus, they will not have to suffer financially; and
  • been and will continue to reach out to our contacts in the diplomatic, legislative, media, and interfaith communities as well as our own, Jewish community.

The work of community relations – of building communities – remains vital during these times of isolation. Our staff and leadership will continue to rethink what we can do to maintain and build relations during these times. From sending Pesach baskets to the diplomats that would normally be at our Diplomatic Seder to creating Ramadan gifts for our Muslim friends when we cannot be with them at our annual Interfaith Iftar – we will continue to creatively and relentlessly pursue communal connection.

Professionally, to each of you – our friends and supporters – I say “thank you.”

Personally, I have to say that I never could imagine that my three years of presidency would likely end by sitting on my couch as a reluctant homeschool teacher, rather than with you. I have been so thankful for the support of this agency and its mission. As always, for us, the relationships come first and I have been blessed to form amazing bonds through this organization.

While our amazing Executive Director Rabbi Asher Lopatin will likely have something appropriate from our Jewish tradition for us at this trying moment, what comes to mind for me is a quote from one of the many movies that my children have been watching during their extended screentime:”Be excellent to each other” (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989).

With prayers for your continuing good health,

Alicia B. Chandler

JCRC/AJC Board President