June 5, 2024

Our Strategy Since October 7

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Our Federation building was packed with visitors on Monday morning – a delegation of Knesset members; a delegation of our steering committee chairs from our Israeli partnerships; and a management group of shlichim (emissaries) from our partners in the Jewish Agency for Israel. And there are more meetings for the visiting partnership chairs across the community this week. These meetings are important, because they’re part of our threefold strategy that’s taken shape since October 7.

Traditionally, we’ve focused as a federation on three main core areas – to care for those in need; to build Jewish community; and to save the world, one person at a time. Those guiding missions are still relevant to everything we do. And yet… the world has changed since October 7, and that means we had to think through our commitments and obligations too. We’re launching a major strategic planning process, chaired by Maxine Schwartz and Jonathan Liss, which will look at all aspects of Federation’s programs and work. That will take some months: there are a lot of passions and commitments (What do we stop doing? What do we shift resources from, and to, to reflect our responsibilities?) and in the meantime we still have to meet the needs of the moment.

So, right now, the strategy since 10/7 looks like this:

  1. Provide for the safety and security of the Jewish community, in our buildings, campuses, synagogues, agencies, and institutions. Make sure that we have good relations with law enforcement and strong community relations, engage vigorously in the fight against Jew-hate.
  2. Deepen and develop further our relationship with Israel, strengthening our partnerships and ensuring that GMW maintains its deep commitment to the Jewish State and People.
  3. Thicken the fabric of Jewish community life here in GMW. Make sure that there are avenues to participate; help welcome, include, and value community members, and ensure that we can support each other.

A lot, right? But we can do it. One of my mentors once said to me that the point of Jewish federations is to help more Jews do more Jewish stuff with other Jews in Jewish spaces, Jewishly. True, it’s an oversimplification. But it’s also valid: we’re better together.