2019 has been a year of turmoil for the Jewish community.
Armed attackers targeted synagogues in Poway, California, and Halle, Germany, as well as a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey. Politicians of myriad persuasions trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes. The last week of the year, which coincided with Chanukah, saw a string of attacks on the Orthodox community in New York, including a stabbing in the heavily Orthodox Monsey. Many are starting to question whether the United States, which has remained a safe haven for Jews for so long, is still as safe as we once imagined.
These thoughts and so many others are top of mind for members of the Jewish community as a new year begins. January is often a time for introspection, whether leading to resolutions about donating more to charity or losing a few pounds at the gym. As we head into an uncertain new decade, the Jewish Exponent asked leaders in the Philadelphia Jewish community to share their resolutions for the new year. Here’s what they had to say.
Yoni Ari, regional director, Philadelphia, Israeli-American Council
We are family. We can have different opinions, but we all share love to our homeland, Israel, and we share obligations to the Jewish identity of the next generation. Next year, we will work together as a family.
Marcia Bronstein, regional director, American Jewish Committee Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey
In reviewing my 2019 resolutions I note with some pride that I accomplished a reasonable amount of those previously stated items. I learned a slew of 21st-century Yiddish words while attending the Yiddish Book Center weeklong immersion program; I have kept a gratitude journal to remind me of something I did each day to make the world a better place and I made strides toward kissing an elephant — as I am heading off to Bali, Bangkok, Singapore and Macau in January.
As for 2020, my resolutions are to make sure I get at least three to four days of 10,000 steps into my week; read more because I really, really like to read; agree to speak about subjects that I am passionate about — example, the Soviet Jewry movement and the power of protest — and resolve to be open to trying new things and having new experiences.
Allan Domb, Philadelphia City Councilman at-large
Support programs to train and educate our students and adults for the new economy. Schools need to adopt curriculums: financial literacy, coding, mentorship and entrepreneurship programs.
Continue to find ways to take people out of poverty through job training and opportunities for tomorrow’s economy.
Adjust the city’s tax structure and become more competitive for existing companies to expand and grow in Philadelphia.
Address gun violence and opioid addiction through new programs.
Expand educational programs to assist returning citizens with necessary life skills to help with job opportunities, reducing overall recidivism.
Reintroduce legislation that would restrict council members from serving no more than three terms starting next year.
Make sure we are fully counted for the census, as each person counted provides the city with thousands of dollars in federal dollars.
Paul Finkelman, president, Gratz College
Gratz College will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. At our gala, on May 31, we will have a conversation with Philadelphia’s own Jake Tapper and award him an honorary degree, and we will honor Congregation Mikveh Israel, Sora Landes and Marty and Lois Bachman. My New Year’s resolution is to help bring the very large Gratz community — alumni, faculty and former faculty, students, parents and friends — to our 125th birthday party, and also to share our celebration with the many members of our community who may not know Gratz, the oldest Jewish college in America.
On a personal note, I really want to attend a World Series game in 2020 at Citizens Bank Park.
Misha Galperin, interim CEO, National Museum of American Jewish History
For 2020, I will resolve to figure out how NMAJH as an organization and I as a Jewish communal professional can help contribute to fighting the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and worldwide; promote tolerance and civility within the Jewish community and society in general; and stay true to my personal immigrant history and that of American Jews and other Americans.
All of that while reigning in my mobile phone addiction.
Shira Goodman, incoming regional director, Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia
As I am leaving CeaseFirePA and about to start at the Anti-Defamation League, I’m even more strongly resolved to fight against the lethal danger that is armed hate. In addition, a personal resolution is to start running again.
Melissa Greenberg, chief development officer, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
In 2020, I resolve to focus on gratitude. I am very grateful to be part of an incredible community of generous philanthropists, volunteers and thousands of people working together to take care of each other every day. It is very easy to become distracted by negativity and conflict, when in fact we are surrounded by positive energy, unexpected acts of kindness and our collective effort toward tikkun olam.
Amy Krulik, CEO, Kaiserman JCC
2020 is going to be very exciting at the Kaiserman JCC as we complete work on and begin to implement an agency-wide strategic plan. The strategic priorities being identified by our planning committee will create a robust road map for the next 50 years of JCC service to our community.
On a personal note, my husband and I are planning a trip to Israel this spring.
Deborah Baer Mozes, founding artistic director, Theatre Ariel
For the coming year, I have two resolutions that I hope I can practice and live up to.
I want to get more physically in tune. I want to get back on the treadmill. I had been fairly diligent until this past year when I broke my ankle. On the spiritual plane, I want to conscientiously practice the middot of gratitude and savlanut (patience) — in particular, patience with myself.
Vered Nohi, executive director, Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce
The Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce is committed to doubling its efforts bringing Israeli latest innovation and business opportunities to Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware and facilitating result-generating joint ventures. As you may know, we led a mission to Israel in September, and it has been impactful. We are returning to Israel in January and anticipate follow-up meetings to generate valuable outcomes for our region and Israel.
In addition, with our new leadership, we are planning comprehensive programing for 2020, helping more stakeholders to leverage on Israel ingenuity.
Tslil Shtulsaft, executive director, Greater Philly Hillel Network
On many of our campuses we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who are struggling with mental health. My New Year’s resolution, and a major priority of Greater Philly Hillel Network, is to be more available and provide more resources to students who seek support.
Rabbi Zalman Wircberg, director, Old City Jewish Art Center
With the start of 2020, Old City Jewish Art Center will be offering two weekly classes on Torah and art. Hopefully, some of your resolutions will be to join us.
I’ll also be cutting back on my carbs.
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