Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Hanukkah from Joel Frankel, Executive Director

Updated: Jan 28

In his book Man’s Quest for God, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Only one response can maintain us in our lives: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder, for the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.” During a year when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall so close together, we have a rare opportunity to find unique ways to explore gratitude. When I sit down for our family’s Thanksgiving meal, it will be very easy for me to identify what I am most grateful for. My family and I were welcomed with open hearts and outstretched arms, and we have felt the warm embrace of community members, donors, volunteers, and of course my colleagues here at the Federation. I am especially thankful to be surrounded by such talented and dedicated professionals. For those of you who don’t know our team, here is a little insight into why I am so grateful to be working with them.

  • To Shauna Leavey, our Director of Community Engagement - I am grateful for your passion for building Jewish community and the ways in which you try to innovate to bring new initiatives and programming to our community members.


  • To Susan Stuart, our Director of Development - I am grateful for how enthusiastic you are about connecting people with their philanthropic values and finding ways to help them live out their charitable goals through the Federation.


  • To Allison Weil, our Programming & Communications Associate - I am grateful for your love of Jewish education and the pride you take in learning new skills so that you can continue to help people feel comfortable expressing their Jewish identities.


  • To Shay Rubinstein, our Virtual Shaliach - I am grateful for your expertise and ability inspire people of all ages, from students in our religious schools who you work with to our devoted Israel Café attendees.


  • To Michalah Hoffman, our Community Social Worker - I am grateful for how you can aid vulnerable individuals in our community and how you continue to identify and address needs in our community even while working remotely.


  • To Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, our Community Hospice Rabbi - I am grateful for your spirituality and the way that you so sensitively approach end of life issues with families who are confronting such difficult situations.


  • To Rabbi Hillel Baron, our Community Chaplain - I am grateful for your commitment to maintaining the dignity of life for people who are in assisted living facilities and the hospital.


  • To Connie Drey, our Office Administrator - I am grateful for your learning mindset and your willingness to step in and help in whatever way is needed.

And as we shift our mindset from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, I am reminded that Al ha’nisim -- one of the prayers added to our liturgy on Hanukkah -- is about miracles. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving, acknowledging all the good deeds, kindnesses, and resilience that the Jewish People have known since Biblical times. What we have gone through as a people and how we have persevered is one of the strongest bonds that unite us as a community. I am so grateful to be a part of the Howard County Jewish community and look forward to all of the great things we will be able to accomplish together as a community.

Happy Thanksgiving and Chag Chanuka Sameach,