Q&A with our 2021 Annual Campaign Leadership

With a greater need for support in our community and worldwide, our Annual Campaign has never been more important. We spoke with our Annual Campaign leaders to learn more about their commitment to the Jewish community and to hear their hopes for the future.

We’re delighted that Adam Suttin is returning for a second year as our Honorary Annual Campaign Chair, and we’re welcoming Jessica R. Myers as our Annual Campaign Chair.

CJP: Last year the world changed in ways beyond our imagination. What did you learn about our community by leading during such a tumultuous year?

Adam: I was so impressed and heartened by the community response to the COVID-19 crisis. Following the initial shock that we all experienced in the spring, there was a renewed commitment to invest in our community and to provide supplemental funds to help those most significantly impacted. 

CJP: What inspired you to take on such a critical leadership role for CJP and our community?

Jessica: Giving back is part of who I am, and CJP is my guiding star for engagement in our Jewish community. From traveling with CJP on missions around the world; to serving on committees and boards over the past 20 years that I have resided in the Boston area; my worldview has been broadened and shaped by those opportunities.

CJP has an extremely talented staff and incredible volunteer leadership, and I am eager to join their efforts to make our campaign as successful as possible. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to step up and take this leadership role because I want to do my part in ensuring that our community continues to thrive long into the future.

CJP: What do you think is special or unique about Greater Boston’s Jewish community?

Adam: I was so impressed by the response to the CJP Coronavirus Emergency Fund. CJP received contributions from more than 1,480 donors and raised $2.26 million to support the needs of the community. The ability to support others when each of us is feeling uncertain about the future is a remarkable capability that provided me with confidence that we will collectively meet the challenges of this moment.

Jessica: We have a breadth and depth of talented and caring people who are working every day to make our community, and world, a better place. I inevitably meet someone who tells me how amazing the Greater Boston Jewish community is every time I travel in the Jewish world. I always feel a sense of pride knowing that it’s true!

CJP: Why is CJP’s work so critical?

Adam: The need for community is so important now as COVID-19 has limited our ability to congregate for religious services and for collective celebration. CJP’s online programming allows us to maintain connection until we can safely congregate. We have also seen increased financial needs and mental health support that we are addressing through the CJP Emergency Coronavirus Fund.

Jessica: CJP is the beating heart of our vibrant Jewish community; it takes the pulse of the community at any given moment in time and guides donation dollars to where they are most needed. CJP provides resources to our most vulnerable and helps our agencies coordinate their work. CJP builds community and Jewish communal life with innovative programming to people of all ages and stages of life, as well as creating a repository of communal events and content on JewishBoston.com.

CJP: What are you most proud of when you think of the work CJP has done in the past and particularly this spring/summer?

Jessica: From the early days of the pandemic when it was clear there would be severe and widespread economic difficulties, CJP created the CJP Coronavirus Emergency Fund to raise money that directly benefits those in need in our community. The Greater Boston Jewish community is incredibly generous and philanthropic in general, but people stepped up and made significant additional — and many first time — donations because they just wanted to help.

CJP also ramped up the content on JewishBoston.com early in the pandemic response. Having a central hub of information, resources, and interesting content brings so much value to the community.

I loved the Seder in a Box that CJP offered for Passover. For so many members of our community, the idea of not being able to celebrate Passover with family was so devastating, and the Seder in a Box was an incredibly thoughtful, cost-efficient, and easily executed idea that had such a huge impact on helping people have a positive Passover Seder. In times of crisis, you remember those people that helped you most, and I think that is a central role that CJP played in our community.

CJP: In a year where large gatherings and events will likely not be possible, how can CJP help our community connect and engage with one another?

Adam: We have organized a variety of virtual events that range from young adult support groups, programming for families with young children, cooking classes, planning for life events in the time of social distancing, and other opportunities for spiritual connection. These programs facilitate connection, learning, and personal development that remain vital as we look to expand our bubbles safely and with meaning.

Jessica: The importance of personal connection is more relevant than ever in this world of forced social distancing and increased anxiety. CJP is thinking about ways to connect our community that are both visionary and time-tested. In lieu of large in-person events, CJP is planning a wide range of virtual opportunities that will reach more people than ever. One of the silver linings of this pandemic is the creative use of technology to bring the world into people’s homes, and also, to bring more people into the world of CJP.

CJP: Who inspires you? 

Adam: The CJP leadership and staff have responded in this crisis with such empathy, focus, and intention. Working together with lay leadership, the CJP team have successfully pivoted to remote work, virtual gatherings, and new methods of community engagement to continue to fulfill their mission.

Jessica: There are so many people in my life who inspire me on a daily basis. I can list many lay-leaders I have met through CJP and other philanthropic organizations who have inspired me with the depth of their knowledge, passion, and fortitude. These people have been role-models for me and have helped shape my identity as a Jewish leader. Additionally, my family inspires me to be a good person; to give back as much as I can; and to do so with grace, kindness, and a sense of purpose that I can do good in this world and be a role model for them.

CJP: What gives you hope?

Adam: The collective response to the crisis by our community gives me confidence that we continue to be connected and will provide for those in need.

Jessica: There are many things that give me hope — the researchers and doctors around the world who are working nonstop to find a way past this pandemic, the acts of kindness large and small that happen every single day, and the power of community working together to achieve a goal. Also, the challenges that my ancestors faced in prior generations, like my grandparents surviving worst of terrors during the Holocaust and forming a new life, strengthen me and give me hope that there is a better future ahead.