British Rabbi Hugo Gryn was a child in a concentration camp during Hanukkah 1944. His father pulled out a bowland makeshift wick, and immersed the wick in their margarine ration so it would light. Hugo questioned their wasting food. His father responded, “Son, we have seen the unimaginable here. We can live three weeks without food. We once lived three days without water. But we cannot, and we will not, live for three minutes without hope.”

As we reflect on 2023 – a year full of hope and light for NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster, but marked forever by darkness for Jews. The October 7 attacks on Israeli nationals and residents and all that has happened worldwide since has been horrifying. NECHAMA’s work 1) humanizes Jews and represents the goodness of Judaism and Jewish ideals, and 2) provides a platform for volunteers to explore their identities and purpose, both individually and as groups – ie, in community. Both are more critical than ever.

NECHAMA’s 2023 offered much to celebrate, including:

  • Completion of a two year response and rebuild residency in New Orleans, LA. 2023 saw 216 days deployed, 655 volunteers hosted for 7,884.4 total volunteer hours worth almost $250,000 (estimated). Thank you to all our supporters, including individual volunteers and donors, the United Way of St. Charles Parish, and the New Orleans Jewish community.
  • The extraordinary service and contributions of two outstanding senior staff members – Administrator Kristine Seabloom and Operations Director Dorothy Maples – who sadly departed NECHAMA. We wish them both tremendous success in their new roles.
  • The continued support of our community of amazing donors including another successful Rockers in Relief concert in NYC.
  • Starting the process of reinstating the Executive Director role (which was eliminated early in COVID) and searching for a new leader!
  • Seeking new Board members! To learn about NECHAMA Board service, please contact Board Chair Stephen Matloff at stephen.matloff@nechama.org.

As NECHAMA continues representing Jews, Judaism, and Jewish ideals, providing meaningful identity and purpose exploration for volunteers, and spreading comfort and hope to those in need, we ask for your partnership. Resources largely determine what NECHAMA can achieve, so please help with a gift to end the year!

May 2024 be filled with evermore light.

The Board of Directors of NECHAMA