We continue to believe that while the fire was a devastating moment for our community’s physical and emotional health, it presents us with an incredible opportunity to look seriously at how our community is structured and to ask the questions that assess if we are meeting the needs of our community, how do we create a model that is sustainable and what do we expect the future needs to be.
Jewish Federation President, Dr. Norman Ravski, JCC President, Scott Hurwitz, JCC Executive Director, Scott Cohen and Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC CEO, Judy Diamondstein are working together as a cohesive leadership team to tackle this challenge. Often community messages have been shared by Judy, but you should know that we stand together and are engaging many community leaders and stakeholders all along the way.
Our community continues to hum on many levels despite the obvious challenges. We have seen an outpouring of support and help related to relocation issues and also with continuing programs and initiatives. Several efforts are underway both on the Shoreline with synagogue and church collaborations and through JCARR- the Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement to welcome refugee families, so far from Congo and Syria, to our community. We do this not just because it is core to our values but because we remember that we were once the stranger who needed refuge—we were the huddled masses yearning to be free and safe. Currently many are working as furiously as they can before the gates of welcoming are shut tight. Kol ha kavod to the leaders and volunteers who work selflessly and tirelessly to make a difference.
This week our community welcomed a community planning consultant who facilitated a series of small focus groups among varied constituencies. These were preliminary meetings designed to be more of a pulse taking than an in-depth analysis and as the effort continues, more opportunities to engage broader sections of our community will be offered.
Each of us is working for you and is available to meet or speak with you individually. Our email addresses can be found at the bottom of this message. Whether you are currently active, you had been active in the past or you are ready to jump in for the first time, we encourage your participation.
We anticipate holding town hall meetings across our catchment area and will offer other methodologies to provide opportunities to solicit your engagement in next steps. We will not understand the full scope of the loss or the anticipated insurance settlement for another 3-4 weeks. While we know that this is frustrating for all of us, given the magnitude of our claim and the reality that each day uncovers unseen damage that must be explored, we must continue to understand that to properly ascertain the scope of the work, the experts must work diligently and carefully.
Hopefully you have seen some of the videos shared on Facebook which highlight the cleaning and remediation work underway at the building. The destruction wrought by the fire is significant, with the entire lower level effected and significant portions of the upper level. Each day further damage is uncovered as walls are opened. We expect that the Jewish community building at 360 Amity Road will be clean and ready for architectural planning and construction in early March. However, we do not expect financial settlement by that time.
In the meantime, the spirit of collaboration abounds with programming happening across the Greater New Haven area. If a program hasn’t happened in a synagogue or agency near you yet, it will—with extra special thanks to the leadership of all of our Greater New Haven Jewish institutions.
Please make sure to join in on some amazing upcoming community happenings:
Sunday, January 29th – IDF Colonel Miri Eisin will provide an insider’s update on Israel and the Middle East at Tower One/Tower East, New Haven at 10:30 a.m. for brunch; walk-ins are welcome and can pay at the door
Thursday, February 9th – Tobin and JJ Abrams will debate Left vs. Right: The Battle for Israel’s Soul at Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12th – Debbie Friedman Memorial Concert at Tower One/Tower East, New Haven, 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, March 5th – Community Mitzvah Day — happening all around the area. Roll up your sleeves and make a difference!
Dr. Norman Ravski
Judy Alperin Diamondstein
JCC Exec. Director