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One of the best parts of recruiting people for the Global Jewry advisory board is having the opportunity to connect with longtime friends during these difficult days. My conversations invariably involve sharing a bit about ourselves, shepping nachas about our families, playing a little Jewish geography, and, of course, expressing our concerns about the state of the world around us. They are also a wonderful reminder of how much we have in common despite the different paths our lives have taken.

Another enjoyable aspect of my calls is discovering just how much amazing information about the Jewish people is readily available. Almost everywhere I turn, I come across men and women deeply committed to the Jewish people and working hard to share their passion with members of the Jewish community and general population.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of connecting with Michael Mail, Founder and CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage (FJH) in London. What I thought would be a relatively brief conversation about Global Jewry took quite a turn when I learned the incredible breadth and depth of the work he and his colleagues are engaged in for the benefit of all of us. It was only a few minutes into the call that I realized the FJH is a prime example of the kind of Jewish organization we intend to strengthen by broadening its audience and amplifying its message. It is headquartered in Europe, works internationally, produces exceptional content, performs an invaluable service to the Jewish people, and deserves to be far better known.

The mission of the FJH is to ensure that important Jewish architectural sites, monuments, and places of cultural significance in poor conditions are preserved and re-imagined for a sustainable future. One of their first acts was to commission the Center for Jewish Art, a research institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to use its extensive knowledge and expertise to provide an inventory of all the historic synagogues in Europe. The result of that effort is a truly amazing website you can find here, one with more information you can imagine about more than 3,400 synagogues presented in a visually pleasing, user-friendly manner. I strongly suggest you take a look and spend a few minutes exploring various places on the map. I promise you will enjoy the journey.

Even more impressively, the synagogue initiative is only one of several projects of the FJH. FJH is also a co-leader of an EU-funded pilot project to preserve Jewish cemeteries in Central and Eastern Europe. Along with Centropa and the ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, they are working to protect and build awareness of both the historical and contemporary significance of Jewish cemeteries in 7 European countries. You can learn more about that project here.

In our effort to help the FJH and other organizations reach more people, we will soon be implementing the first phase of the shift from our existing website to a much more robust version. Included among the changes you will see are a much better and more user-friendly design, easier navigation, improved searchability, greater functionality, and a list of additional features we will be adding in the future. We look forward to sharing the new site with you as soon as it is ready to go, and we hope you will take the time to let us know what you think. Your input will be very helpful as we work out the bugs and think about ways to continue improving our online presence.

If all goes according to plan, we will launch our revised website before we convene the members of all four of our planning teams for a 90-minute “mind mapping” session on February 7th. That meeting will bring our initial planning process to a close, and we are greatly indebted to Alon, Brina, and everyone else who has contributed their time and effort to make that process so helpful and fruitful.

As always, thank you for your support of Global Jewry, and may next week be the one in which the violence ends and the hostages return home safely.

Shabbat Shalom,

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