The Year Ahead

A New Year and Another Chance for a Fresh Start

As many of you know, I love movies. More accurately, I love specific points or lines in movies that are memorable and poignant in their message. In Forest Gump, there is a line that is often overlooked. When Forest Gump is celebrating New Year’s Eve with Lt. Dan and two random women at a bar, one of the women says, “Don’t you just love New Year’s? You get to start all over. Everybody gets a second chance.”
    As Jews, we are lucky because this concept applies to us twice—once in September (or October, depending on when Rosh Hashanah falls that year) and once on January 1. And while each instance provides us an opportunity to look forward to the year ahead, sort of a “clean slate,” it is up to us to make sure that we use the time to its fullest.
    In my final weekly column of 2023, emailed out as part of our weekly Tuesday eBlast, I provided a recap of the highlights of what our Jewish Federation had done in 2023. As a bookend to that piece in this month’s JLife SGPV column, I am highlighting a few important events we have planned for our community in 2024.
    We kick off 2024 with two important community events. The first is our 29th Annual Meeting, which will occur on Sunday, January 7. This annual meeting is an opportunity to bring our community together and share our impact on our community during the previous year and our plans to increase that effort in the year ahead.
    Our second event of the year is our Every Person Has a Name Holocaust Commemoration and Vigil, which we have done for the past five years in recognition of UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We will once again return to the steps of Pasadena City Hall on January 27 through January 28 for our 25-hour event, where volunteers will read the names of those murdered during the Holocaust. As a nod to us celebrating our 30th Anniversary, we decided to present an exhibition that honors 30+ righteous gentiles who risked their own lives and freedom by saving Jews during the Holocaust. This annual event has become one of the most important ones we coordinate for our community, especially in light of the current pervasive epidemic of antisemitism and hate we are witnessing today.
    March will be hectic as we hold our inaugural Ladies of Laughter Comedy Fest: Celebrating Funny Jewish Women at the world-famous Ice House in Pasadena March 7-10. Our goal with this festival is to spotlight Jewish female comediennes, who do not often get to be the voice for entertainment. The festival will feature an improv and sketch night, a stand-up night, a series of workshops, and our celebration will conclude with an evening honoring someone who has “broken the mold” and paved the way for Jewish Women of comedy. This year’s honoree will be Gilda Radner and the documentary screening of “Love, Gilda” will be included.
    Then, in April, we are taking our community to Anatevka as our JFed Players proudly return to the stage for Fiddler on the Roof. This production is part of our 30th Anniversary celebration and commemorates our Cultural Arts’ 13th year. We could think of no better way to mark this momentous occasion than to stage this quintessential musical.
    Our 30th Anniversary celebration will conclude on June 23 with our 30th Anniversary Celebration Brunch that will honor our past Jewish Federation Presidents, celebrate our 30 years of providing positive Jewish experiences for our community, and look ahead to the next 30 years.
    Of course, we have so much more planned in 2024. This will include our ongoing local effort to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred, another incredible summer of Camp Gan Shalom, more Jewish Cooking Connection videos, PJ Library programs, and the year will culminate with our 26th Annual Jewish Book Festival. I am excited to announce that we are also planning a Culinary Trip to Israel at the end of the year.
    I am so excited that 2024 is just beginning, and I look forward to celebrating an incredible year ahead with all of you.  

Jason Moss is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater
San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.


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