Despite pandemic, Alliance achieved many goals this past year

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The 10th annual meeting of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, on June 17, was once again a virtual event. Just as they did last year, members of the Rhode Island Jewish community came together on Zoom to reflect on the past year, look forward to the coming year, install new officers and board members, and celebrate award winners.

This year, the tone was one of hope as the community’s institutions have begun to reopen.

The meeting included a mix of live and video presentations on a Zoom call that lasted just over an hour. It clearly demonstrated how much we’ve learned technologically in the more than 15 months that the pandemic has forced the community to pivot its meetings and gatherings to a virtual space.

The meeting opened with a d’var Torah from Rabbi Ethan Adler of Temple Beth David in Narragansett. He told the community that Torah “can teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” and congratulated members of the Alliance for work well done.

A video message from U.S. Rep. David Cicilline followed. “These have been trying times for our community,” the Rhode Island Democrat said. “Let us continue our work together.”

James Pious, who is completing his second year as chair of the board of the Alliance, began his address saying, “It is a good time to look back on what we’ve accomplished and look forward to the challenges we are facing.”

He listed impressive progress from the strategic plan, “Here For Good,” in the last year, despite the challenges of COVID-19, including meeting virtually with community members across the state, a fundng campaign for PJ Library that will allow the program to grow to reach up to 1,000 families and the Relief and Recovery Fund that raised more than $265,000 for pandemic relief.

He also outlined other accomplishments, such as rebranding and staying on track financially.

“In closing, I would be remiss if I did not take a few moments to address the situation in Israel and the United States,” he said. “In our greater Rhode Island Jewish community, with differing points of view, consensus is often elusive. I hope I speak for all of us when I say we remain committed to Israel’s right to exist …. We must be steadfast in opposing this form of hate [anti-Semitism] wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”

The evening’s award presentations featured comments from previous award winners as well as the new recipients.

The Reisman Leadership Development Award, established to encourage people to be future leaders, went to Rich Glucksman, who has served on the Community Relations Council and co-chaired COVID relief efforts for the Alliance, and is now vice chair of Philanthropy.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive the award,” Glucksman said. “I look forward to attending the annual convention that comes with this award. I find these inspirational.”

The Norman D. and Flo Tilles Community Relations Council Award, presented every two years to an emerging leader on the Community Relations Council, was awarded to Adam Cable. Speakers characterized Cable as humble, kind and generous with his time.

“I’m hoping to continue working for the environment, for social justice and to make the Jewish community a more welcoming and inclusive place,” Cable said.

Alliance Chair of governance Rabbi Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Shalom in Providence put the slate of officers and board members to a vote via online polling. Rabbi Rachel Zerin installed the officers.

President and CEO Adam Greenman wrapped up the meeting with a speech that outlined plans for the next year,  including facilitating greater community connections locally and around the world, and he emphasized the value of Hineni, Here I am. He said Hineni is his favorite organizational value, and challenged everyone to join him in proclaiming a responsibility to the community as it comes out of the pandemic. Greenman’s remarks are on Page 7.

A recording of the annual meeting can be found at jewishallianceri.org/jewish-alliance-10th-annual-meeting.

FRAN OSTENDORF (fostendorf@jewishallianceri.org) is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.