Chag Same’ach! Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Pesach.

Dear friends,

It is a privilege for me to be sharing this Pesach message with you on behalf of JCA.

The last time I wrote a personal message to JCA’s community was back in September for Rosh Hashanah and it is incredible to think how dramatically the world and our community has changed in the space of just over six months.

With Passover starting this evening, this year’s question of “Ma nishtana halayla hazeh?” will take on a whole new meaning – our Seders are going to look and feel remarkably different from the traditional Pesach night.

Personally, my family’s Seder table would have usually included between 30 to 40 family members and friends. But this year, our tables will be limited to no more than our household – in my case just me and my wife – as we do what we must to ensure the health and safety of our loved ones and community, with the aim of all being together again at next year’s Seder table.

We know from our Gen 17 research that Pesach is our community’s most observed and celebrated Jewish festival – with almost 9 out of 10 households traditionally attending a Seder. So, yet again, the Covid-19 crisis will severely impact us all and our sense of communal belonging and Jewish identity.

Perhaps the most significant disparity and challenge for me is that Pesach is a festival and celebration of our freedom, yet this year we will be acutely aware that a large part of our regular freedoms have been restricted and for some, including our most vulnerable, even more so.

We should all take comfort, though, that while we cannot be physically together in Shules and around our tables, the fact is that we are a robust and remarkably vibrant and connected community and one that is undoubtedly stronger together.

Now more than ever, JCA – and our 23 member organisations – are here to make sure that our local Jewish community has the resources and services to get us through this crisis.

If you, or those close to you, are in need, be assured that our community is here for you – now, and always.

A common question at my past Seder tables has been: if the distance between Egypt and Jerusalem is only 500km’s why did it take 40 years to get there? One of my previous Rabbis explained that the journey was designed to bring about change in the Jewish people. We had to adapt our mindset from that of slaves to that of a free and unified people.

Today, because of the crisis, we are once again having to change. We have to adapt and rethink a number of our regular behaviours and ultimately change the way we do things for the foreseeable future. But this cannot take us 40 years – we have to act now.

Following JCA’s recent announcements of crisis funding, if I’ve learned anything in the past few weeks it’s that our community has the capacity, ingenuity, resilience and compassion to make the necessary changes. Faced with enormous challenges, I have already seen organisations and community members adjusting and coming together for each other and that is why I am confident we will emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

So please know – whether you are having a Seder for two or are connecting for a Zoom Seder with all your relatives from around the world – JCA and our community is there with you, just as you have been there for us over the past 50 plus years.

On behalf of the entire JCA team and our member organisations, we wish you and your family a Chag Same’ach and good health – now, and for the many Seders to come.

With warm regards,

Alain Hasson, JCA CEO