Jun 09, 2020 eJewish Philanthropy

By Abby Pitkowsky and Dan Tatar, representing the collaboration of The Center for Israel Education, The iCenter, the Jewish Agency for Israel, The Jewish Education Project and Unpacked Media

Conclusions are most meaningful when partnered with reflections. We’ve now come to the conclusion of a significantly meaningful period in the Jewish calendar, Pesach through Shavuot. Those 60 or so days seem to contain a meaningful day at every twist and turn of the week, some related to our relationship with Israel. Reflecting on the shifts in approaches and techniques that were necessitated this year to celebrate and observe these days, to ensure meaning, and to strengthen connections with our local and global Jewish community is especially important this year, at this time. While acknowledging the wide and deep losses from not having “normal programming,” our reflection also uncovers significant gains that are worthy to unpack, hold up to share and hold on to as we move ahead, either returning to our familiar normal, or learning a new one.

This year, no one knew what these days would look or feel like. In-person celebrations for special days like Yom Ha’atzmaut were sadly not an option, and no one had a play-book on large scale commemoration and celebrations in a virtual manner during a pandemic; (and even if a play-book was available it wouldn’t have helped; the State of Israel wasn’t around during the last pandemic in 1918 so the challenge and joy of celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut didn’t exist!). Instead of radio silence or separate small scale virtual gatherings on this day—mirroring what at times occurs under normal circumstances – we saw something deserving of an “al hanissim”—miraculous—a collective spirit among five organizations focused almost exclusively on delivering meaningful, engaging and fun content to people all over the world.

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Abby Pitkowsky is Director of the Westchester Region and Israel Education at The Jewish Education Project. Dan Tatar is Director of Outreach at The iCenter for Israel Education. Email them at or to let them know what new collaborations you are interested in trying.