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November 2021

Minute With Moshe

It’s November. The splendor of the Fall season arouses our senses. Visually, this is when our Federation campus is in its full glory. My lungs crave the crisp air. I love seeing oodles of pumpkins and varieties of squash, my favorite being delicata. And the stunning autumn color makes fall the most magnificent of seasons.  

Like clockwork of the changing seasons, the arrival of autumn here in Fed-land means it’s time we kick off our Annual Campaign. It’s tradition!

Our tradition to give annually is inextricably linked to the Federation’s singular organizational purpose throughout its seventy-five years -- and that is to help our fellow Jews and build uplifting communities. Our community leaders recognized this purpose as the horrors of the Holocaust became more evident as World War II drew to a close. In September 1946, the first meeting of the Community Council, now called the Federation, was called to order.

What motivated this group of leaders to address the profound challenges of the Jewish People? What particular gifts, abilities, or sensitivities did they possess that moved them to organize for the collective good? When I try to imagine the conversation that took place seventy-five years ago, I hear determined voices, committed voices, voices of individuals who understood in their bones that what they do will make a difference.

Fast forward to the year 2000. A new group of Jewish leaders facing fresh challenges, new realities, and forward-looking opportunities broke ground on today’s beautiful community center built on a 28-acre campus. What motivated this group of leaders to take a series of extraordinary actions to bring this reality about? Here, too, I think we can detect an exceptional talent -- the talent to envision, to imagine, to see the possibilities that are waiting to be revealed. 

For me, these two great iconic conversations, one seventy-five years ago and one twenty-one years ago, are the D.N.A. of our Jewish Federation. For me, they represent the emblems of how we find the will and the wherewithal to move forward as a community. From this type of purposeful, outcome-driven conversation flows commitment, responsibility, imagination, and Investment.

So this type of conversation that requires taking a principled stand is the conversation I want to have with you at the outset of our Annual Campaign. 
Community building represents the best of our tradition. Breaking patterns, refusing to abide by what’s expected, taking risks, admitting error, and embracing reconciliation are always part of passionate, sensitive, and empowering discussions. What principles will guide our decision-making to build the community we can all flourish in?

Our past leaders provided a foundation to build on with a commitment to a multi-faceted communal agenda advocating a shared sense of peoplehood, pluralism, and inclusivity. The community’s evolving needs in 1946, 2000 and today align with deep-rooted Jewish values that we are all responsible for one another. Another core principle that has stood the test of time is that the Federation is the central connection to Jewish life for every man, woman, and child, and family, including the stranger in our midst. 

I am humbled and honored to follow the community leaders of yesteryear as we strive to find our collective voice to overcome our obstacles and envision the road ahead. We will be a community defined by our conversations and actions as we journey beyond the horizon. 
With this in mind, I’m excited to announce our 2022 Campaign theme: Here for good!

What does it mean to be “here for good?” For our communities and the people in need, it means Federation is here to provide resources, strength and support to help build and sustain flourishing Jewish communities at home and around the world. For us, it means we are, and always will be, the engine for Jewish communal life in our cities. We are here for good, and we are not going anywhere.

In this journey, I’m motivated to focus our precious time on engaging with you, cultivating nurturing relationships, listening and learning about what matters most, and inspiring the community. If we can open our ears and eyes in this community-building process, perhaps too, we can open our hearts. And when hearts open, hope springs eternal with new opportunities for how we engage with our time, treasure, and talents. 

Gaining community insight to prioritize our aspirational goals will be the number one objective in 2022. Measurable progress toward this key objective is already underway, including:

  1. Jewish Family Services continues to re-image what its outreach into our community looks like. Providing over 142 meals and 442 community support calls over the past year. 
  2. We have seen substantial changes in our programming and how we connect with members of our community, with a major increase in attendance to both young adult and children’s programs.
  3. We’ve established an open community forum to jumpstart this conversation called the Hineni - Here I Am group. Membership to this group is available to all community members and organizations in our Jewish ecosystem who contribute to the mosaic of community life. The group’s purpose is to help develop an honest snapshot of where we are and includes the participation of many of our organizational leaders from our religious, educational, arts & culture, and business institutions.  

There has never been a more exciting and challenging time to be in the business of community building. 1946. 2000. 2022. We can be proud that our Federation has always been a vital source in helping our fellow Jews and building community. 

Your help, your gift is the concrete continuation of this tradition. Would you please support the Federation with this intention? It’s November, and it’s especially appropriate to pledge your meaningful gift at this time during our Campaign.

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