407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

As the wind blew and the rain fell this morning, I found it symbolic of the changes we have been dealing with over the past 6 weeks. Storms roll in, creating chaos, and then leave, allowing us to regroup and move forward. During these uncertain times, it has been amazing to see our synagogues and agencies join together to provide for the needs of our community. It’s been exciting to see the interest level in programming increase and more people participating in Jewish life.

A few examples that I want to highlight include:

The Jewish Academy of Orlando’s online school has been outstanding. The curriculum, the teacher interaction, and the special exercise programs throughout the week are providing students with a quality education along with fitness and fun. 

The Federation’s RAISE continues to thrive, with employees attending weekly Lunch & Learn social skills and work training classes. The first RAISE Family Reunion was held online, and the RAISE Your Glass monthly team-building was held via Zoom with great success. Coming up next week will be an online Cooking Demonstration as part of the RAISE Lunch & Learn program. When RAISE employees return to their jobsites, they will be even better employees than before.

The Holocaust Center hosted an incredible online interview between a mother and daughter. The mother is a Holocaust survivor and hundreds of people including a tremendous amount of high school and middle school students attended and participated. It’s amazing the reach the Holocaust Center has, especially in these challenging times.

Central Florida Hillel continues to recreate the campus experience with a virtual model. Their weekly programs, coffee dates, and social interactions ensure students at UCF and Rollins College continue to feel that they are part of their community.

Our synagogues and Rabbis continue to provide Shabbat services and learning opportunities on a weekly basis. Using virtual tools, the spirituality and ruach makes sure Jewish life is vibrant and meaningful.

JFS Orlando and the Federation are working together to ensure those with food needs are taken care of. If you know of anybody who needs food, please either have them contact JFS or you can contact us directly.

In addition, I want to announce a few new exciting opportunities:

On Sunday May 3, at 3 pm, Deborah Feldman, the author of Unorthodox, the bestselling book and Netflix series, will be doing a special interactive Zoom discussion. Look for registration information next week and the link to join us If you haven’t seen the series, it’s well worth watching and then joining the discussion with her.

This week we began our Great Expectations: Peer Pregnancy Discussion Group. If you are expecting or recently had a child, this is a great way to connect with others who are pregnant or recently had children and build a support group. And if your child isn’t getting PJ Library or PJ Our Way books each month, make sure to subscribe now. Remember they are a gift to you and your children from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.

As we come close to April 30 and the tentative expiration of our stay-at-home order, I hope you all are staying safe. While it is challenging to be kept physically separate, when we can join together again it will be that much sweeter and that much more appreciated.