July is a month of transition. The school year ends, and our kids move on to Summer Camp. Our time is spent enjoying family and vacation, and this year we begin to transition from isolation to togetherness.
Jewish tradition gives us guideposts to mark transitions. We have ceremonies for youth to acknowledge their transition to Jewish adulthood. We mark the weekly distinction between the holiness of Shabbat and the rest of the week with Havdalah. We mark the beginnings and endings of life through Brit Milah and Shiva. The Torah even provides a rich source of guidance in addressing transitions. The paradigmatic example in the Old Testament is the transition from Moses to Joshua.
This month our Federation is also experiencing some transition as we say farewell to two amazing members of our Jewish Community Federation Team who are taking next steps in their professional journeys — Jesse Feld, our Chief Development Officer, and Bonnie Hite, our Director of Finance and Administration.
Jesse led our development and engagement efforts through critical change and growth with dignity, care and strength. In his new role as President and CEO of Richmond Jewish Foundation, he won’t be going far, thankfully. Jesse was at the forefront of our efforts to craft a more dynamic, modern and robust fundraising program, poised to meet the needs of our growing community.
Jesse, with his ability to connect with people, think creatively and drive change, developed and implemented a variety of new initiatives that resulted in millions in new financial support for our community. He guided our Federation through the process of building out supplemental and corporate giving programs that drove significant impact and fundraising growth and helped secure our future through Life and Legacy. While the numbers are impressive, it is Jesse’s quiet confidence, wise guidance and passion for life which are his hallmark and drove his success. I know our community will benefit as Jesse assumes his new role.
Bonnie Hite, our Director of Finance and Administration for 7 years, was the driving force behind Federation’s financial transparency, efficiency and modernization efforts. Bonnie guided the Federation through a variety of important transitions, through a pandemic, two financial and data system migrations and more.
Bonnie led with ethics, commitment and dedication to our mission. Just one example was her leadership and support for our agency and synagogue partners throughout the pandemic. I received so many thankful calls from synagogue presidents and agency partners expressing how much they appreciated her support through the PPP loan process. Bonnie was far more than just a “Finance Person;” she understood how the dollars drove the mission and lived it every day. Clearly we weren’t the only ones to recognize her strength as she has joined the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority as Accounting & Operations Manager here in Richmond.
I am excited for what lies ahead for both Jesse and Bonnie and am grateful for their important and critical work in making our community stronger.
Our lives are always in transition, and while change can bring with it fear of the unknown, the journey is rich with possibility. As we transition into normal we look forward to wonderful things ahead.
Chazak Chazak, from strength to strength.
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