Message From Executive Director Zach Benjamin

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 Dear Chaverim,

The past two years have been an era of transition for the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, and indeed for the broader New Mexico Jewish community.  Thanks to remarkable lay leadership and a community whose foundation is unshakable in the face of adversity, stability has returned to Jewish New Mexico and to the Federation. Now more than ever before, the Federation is equipped to fulfill its Jewish obligation to leave this community in a perpetually improving state of repair.

As a relative newcomer to New Mexico, I have both the benefit and handicap of a limited personal community memory. I entered a Jewish community that has celebrated simchas and mourned losses that long predate my arrival. Perhaps as a result of the challenges of the past, the Jewish New Mexico I have experienced is robust, perseverant, and deeply committed to sustaining Jewish life here.

I am thrilled by the tremendous impact of the Jewish Care Program—funded by the Federation and administered by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque—on the elderly, indigent, and survivors of the Holocaust. I am proud that the seeds sown during the Federation’s early years as a statewide organization have borne fruit of late. The arrival of Rabbis Without Borders as a Federation partner has improved our ability to serve Roswell, Las Vegas, and other communities where our work has already helped sustain Jewish life. Meanwhile, we have expanded our outreach to Santa Fe, where Federation supports the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival, Santa Fe Middle East Watch, and has recently established a Santa Fe-based steering committee to help guide our activities and initiatives there. I have also seen Federation’s statewide network expand significantly over the course of the past nine months as our database of contacts has grown by 50%, indicating a strong interest among Jewish New Mexicans to engage and participate in Jewish life.

Hurdles to progress do exist. According to our research, affiliated Jews in New Mexico currently give to Federation at a rate that is more than 25% lower than the national giving rate. Indeed, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico has laid the foundation to build on its already remarkable community impact. However, our ability to serve is only as strong as the community’s willingness to share in that effort. Every dollar spent to build programs and partnerships—from publication of the New Mexico Jewish Link to the funding and administration of Hillel at the University of New Mexico and so much more—comes directly from the generosity of individuals and families who share our commitment to Jewish life in New Mexico.

Not everyone has the ability to perform the mitzvah of tzedakah. As we enter the final weeks of the Federation’s 2016 Heart of Jewish New Mexico Campaign, which ends with our fiscal year on August 31, it is my sincere hope that those who do have that ability will join the Federation in its mission serve our neighbors in need and sustain Judaism here for generations to come.

Our community is a microcosm of Jewry through the ages. We adapt to upheaval, celebrate success, and face challenges with energy and ingenuity. In that spirit, in this time of opportunity, it is up to us all to acknowledge our potential as a Federation and as a community, and for each of us to do our part to will that potential into reality.


Zach Benjamin
Executive Director
Jewish Federation of New Mexico

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