Dear Friend,

We hope this briefing finds you and those close to you healthy and continuing to be conscientious in following public health guidelines in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We are painfully reminded this week that the human impact of the pandemic extends beyond those directly affected by the virus. We were all shocked and deeply disturbed by the death of Alejandro Ripley, a nonverbal, autistic nine-year-old boy whose body was discovered in a West Miami-Dade canal. His mother and principal caregiver has been charged with his murder. This is a tragedy of enormous proportions and our hearts go out to all those affected. We grieve the loss of this young boy and express our deep concern for the most vulnerable among us during these times of stress and uncertainty. We want to remind all caregivers that you are not alone. There are many resources available to you. In particular, we call attention to our newly launched Miami Jewish Abilities Alliance website, where you can find services, support groups and other information to provide advice and guidance. Please remember you are part of a caring and supportive community. We repeat: You are not alone. If you or someone you know is facing difficulties, your Jewish community is here for you. Please call our confidential helpline at 305.576.6550 for guidance. Operated by Federation’s partner agency, JCS, calls are answered 24/7 every day of the year.

On a more celebratory note, Federation held its Annual Meeting this past Tuesday, the first virtual annual meeting in our 82-year history! We are pleased to announce Isaac K. “Ike” Fisher will begin his term as Chair of the Board on July 1 and Ariel Bentata will serve as General Campaign Chair. We are honored and grateful these two respected and longstanding leaders will partner to guide and strengthen our community. We invite you to become involved with Federation and join hundreds of other volunteers in our life-enhancing work, especially in these extraordinary times.

This week’s update is being sent a day earlier than usual because Shavuot begins this evening. This beautiful holiday carries two levels of significance, both of which are relevant for us today. The first is the ancient pilgrimage surrounding early summer’s harvest. It was a prescribed time for our forebears to express gratitude for the gifts we have in life and the blessings we often take for granted. And the second – and perhaps better-known – is the commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai following the exodus from Egypt. Our encounter at Mount Sinai reminds us that even in this time of crisis we can find the divine in our connection to community and to each other. This moment marked the beginning of the Jewish people’s covenantal relationship with G-d. We are one people with one shared destiny and together we can bring healing to our broken world. That’s the power of community.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.

We wish a refu’ah sh’lemah to all those people affected by COVID-19 and other illnesses and we continue to pray for comfort for those who have lost loved ones.