March 5, 2023

All Are Welcome and Valued

Sharon Zucker Director of Welcoming and Inclusion

I am thrilled to be writing this as the new Director of Welcoming and Inclusion at Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. This role came directly out of the 2020 Community Study, and the subsequent work of two of the Community Study task forces.  

The study informed us that there are individuals living in our Greater MetroWest community who identify as Jewish or living in a Jewish household, who don’t feel as if they have a seat at our proverbial Federation table and/or the larger Jewish communal enterprise. My role is to make sure that everyone feels that not only are they welcome at Federation but that they feel this is their organization and community. To continue this work, we will focus efforts on those who identify as interfaith, LGBTQ+, and Jews of Color, in addition to creating a more inclusive community overall.  

In my first month in the role, I’ve learned so much about what Federation does and what we can offer to our community, but today I want to share a few key phrases that may help define what I’m exploring so far. 

“Drinking from the fire hose” 

I had heard this in other workplaces, but it really resonates with me here as I’ve tried to meet as many people as possible — both professional colleagues and volunteer leaders — and keep track of the various roles and responsibilities that each person holds. I appreciate that my colleagues don’t want to overwhelm me with too much information, but I am taking it all in and am excited to learn from each of them! I want to hear about all that goes on at Federation and how I might be able to collaborate with each and every function within the organization. During this past month I’ve learned that my role, while housed in our Community Engagement Department, is really going to consist of partnerships throughout the organization as we all work together to become a more welcoming and inclusive organization. 

“So, tell me about what your role is and what you’ll be doing here” 

Excellent question and one that I don’t quite have an answer to yet! I have a vision and I have ideas, but I look forward to working closely with our lay leaders and our partner organizations to really do a deep dive into how to best implement that vision.  We will ask for your patience as we develop an intentional and sustainable strategy to move the work identified by the Community Study forward. For the time being, we will work on establishing three main components of the strategy: 

  • Internal learning and education 
  • Outreach to our community members as well as outreach to find those who don’t yet feel connected to our community 
  • Support to our partner agencies and synagogues as they strive to be their most welcoming and inclusive organizations  

“I’m so glad you’re here” 

As nice as this is to hear, I believe that what my colleagues are saying is that they too are thrilled that Federation has put time, effort, and financial resources behind something that they value. It’s not about me as an individual, but more about the role I’m stepping into and the possibilities that come along with it. In a few short weeks, I’ve met with colleagues and volunteers and learned that I work alongside and in partnership with a diverse group of people, many of whom fall into or have close connections to people who fall into historically marginalized communities. I know that this work is critical, and that it is highly valued across the organization. 

As we learn about Welcoming and Inclusion together, I encourage you to reach out to me at [email protected] and let me know where we can be of assistance. As you’re reading this, what questions or concerns do you have? What ideas do you have? I look forward to seeing how we can work together to ensure that Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest is a radically welcoming space and is connecting with, and valuing, all members of our community.