Happy one year anniversary to the Federation’s Welcoming and Inclusion Initiative! We have made a lot of strides in this space over the past 12 months, and of course still have a long way to go toward true belonging for all those who identify as Jewish or who live in a Jewish household here in Greater MetroWest.
I am proud of what we have accomplished and am grateful for the support that the community has shown as we have blazed new trails: We are the only Jewish Federation in North America that has established such a comprehensive approach to belonging. This is all made possible through the Cooperman Family Fund for a Jewish Future and the Innovations Fund, both of Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
As we reflect on this year, it’s critical to take stock of this initiative and how we believe it will help us move forward in a very challenging time.
We have established a Welcoming and Inclusion Community Task Force made up of diverse community members and charged with creating a plan for increasing inclusivity across Greater MetroWest. The task force is chaired by Federation’s immediate past president, David Saginaw, who is wholly committed to this goal.
In the short term, we are working on ways to better engage the LGBTQ+ community, interfaith couples and families, and Orthodox community members. In the longer term, we will determine the needs of these communities, as well as Jews of color, Russian-speaking Jews, local Israelis, and others who feel they haven’t yet found their community here.
Part of this endeavor is partnering with some established organizations dedicated to this work, including 18Doors, a national organization committed to empowering people in interfaith relationships to engage in Jewish life. To that end, we are excited to also partner with One Happy Camper, NJ for Sleepaway Camp 101 for Interfaith Families. Additionally, we are serving as the “anchor institution” for a Keshet Shivyon cohort that will assist partner agencies and synagogues with increasing LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their respective spaces. This cohort is gathering on Monday, January 22 with an in-person day of learning that will bring together ten Greater MetroWest synagogues and agencies to better understand LGBTQ+ inclusion and to launch a year of cohort-based work in this area.
We are “building the bike while riding it” in many ways. We know that not everyone who identifies with a historically marginalized community wants to be singled out as such. We also know that many people are looking to find community with others who share their experiences.
Federation is 100 percent committed to ensuring that Greater MetroWest is a community where everyone who wants to engage feels welcome and valued, and we need your help! If this matters to you, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss how you can be an important part of the change.