Following shortly after Thanksgiving, it feels like the right time of year to share appreciation and gratitude. I feel an immense sense of gratitude and purpose when I think about the past three years, working in partnership with an incredible team of brilliant colleagues and lay leadership to raise the philanthropic funds to build this new museum for the nation’s capital at such a pivotal and historic moment in our nation’s history.
The gratitude that I feel is enormous. I have been entrusted to seek partners and build relationships with stakeholders to advance the Capital Jewish Museum’s mission to inspire visitors to connect, reflect and act: connect across families and diverse communities, reflect on the relevance of the past to today, and act on behalf of their communities and values.
I love this organization’s feisty start up mentality. It’s contagious energy. Our willingness to try anything and see what sticks. Back when we worked in shared office space, we had post it notes lining our walls where staff and volunteers would jot down what they liked most about museums, things that did not work, dreams for the future. My daughter took a stab at this creative process when home sick one day, designing pages of what the future museum would look like through a child’s eyes. She detailed the attractions and exhibits that we should have, the costumed historians, the building materials – complete with very futuristic elevators. Her pictures were displayed on the office walls as well!
The future is now. We are under construction, having raised $32M of our $34M capital campaign. Talk about gratitude! Here we are coming within reach of the initial goal during a global pandemic. When the campaign began back in 2017 we had about 20 major donors. Today, we are well over 200 major gifts. So many individuals and multigenerational families have given significantly to make the construction of the museum possible. It is an honor to meet them and learn their stories. We would not be where we are without each and every one of our supporters. They are the backbone of this museum.
In times of uncertainty, the laser focus of getting the Museum to construction has been inspirational. I find strength, peace and gratitude knowing that we are building one of the next steps for Jews to connect. A place where national visitors will be able to explore the intersection of American Judaism and American democracy. The Museum will be a vital and unique destination in our nation’s capital for storytelling, connection, and much needed dialogue across cultural communities.
I could not be more honored to be a part of the dynamic team building the CJM. I’ll close, by saying it is inspiring and fun work! The next 18 months of construction and exhibit fabrication will go by very quickly. I imagine I will have another article to write about gratitude when we open this museum together!