Questions For Our Future

Dear Friends,

What a year! In less than two weeks our merger will be legally official, so I’m reflecting these days on our past, present, and future.

A real highlight of this year for me was traveling to COP27 in Egypt with ten campus leaders of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement and ten Israeli youth leaders from Nitzana, an educational youth village in Israel’s Negev desert. Special thanks to JAFI and other investors for your support. These JYCM leaders are now speaking about their COP27 experience at events nationwide, and poised to grow our campus impact moving forward. So how do we maximize more youth leadership opportunities? And how can our COP28 delegation be an even greater catalyst for culture change and systemic change?

Another highlight came just a few days ago, when my family and I traveled to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for the Adva Reunion. My wife and I met at Isabella Freedman almost 20 years ago when she did the Adamah fellowship and I was a Teva educator, so we were overjoyed to reunite with over 140 Teva and Adamah alumni and their partners, spouses, and children.

There are now almost 1,000 Adva alumni doing amazing things all across the country—as are alumni from Pearlstone, Eden Village, Urban Adamah, Wilderness Torah, GrowTorah, and other JOFEE programs who collectively embody a rapidly growing new generation of American Jewish leaders with profound potential.

How do we make the most of this incredible potential, for the Jewish world and beyond?

The Jewish Youth Climate Movement is definitely on its way to actualizing its potential, growing nationwide in leaps and bounds, and starting to emerge on college campuses as well. And the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition is on its way too, already engaging over 145 member organizations committed to climate action and working with our Action team to form communities of practice and create and implement meaningful climate action plans across the Jewish world. Our momentum is palpable, and we are thrilled to announce that in 2023 we will be launching our second Community Impact Hub in Southern California! Stay tuned for more information on our broader Impact Hub Strategy in the months ahead.

How do we capture this momentum AND strengthen our core at the same time? Our two core impact campuses are navigating post-pandemic recoveries at Pearlstone and Isabella Freedman, and our model Community Impact Hub in Detroit is also rebuilding with an awesome team and new multiyear vision. Far-reaching pandemic impacts and ongoing inflation create intense financial pressure on all our teammates, operations, and organizational activities. We have an amazing team confronting awesome opportunities alongside daunting challenges.

In a few days, on Shabbat Chanukah, we’ll be celebrating the bar mitzvah of our second-oldest son, Shama Nissim. There is nothing like the feeling of lighting Chanukah candles together as a family, with friends, and in community; and there is nothing like seeing a child step up and into their voice as a nascent young adult facing a strange new world. The cycles of life are real, and so is the power of community. We can find the strength to hold our children with love, to be real with them about the challenges we and they face. And we can also light candles together, and show them that there is no match for the light we shine in the darkness, together.

We need each other. So let’s come together to build the Jewish community and the world we believe in.

Sending you all love and light.
Happy Chanukah!
With so much gratitude for your support,

Jakir Manela

Chief Executive Officer