I started my diner series the other week. So far, so good. I’ve been to several decent diners, where I've had some good eggs and toast, and some amazing conversations.
The idea’s fairly simple: I don’t think there are enough opportunities for us in the “organized” Jewish community to have conversations together. We should be talking more to each other. If you give a gift to the federation then you’ll (hopefully) get called and thanked, you’ll get a good Jewish newspaper, and you’ll get some interesting mailings. More importantly, you’ll (hopefully) get the sense of satisfaction that you’re helping to care, build, and save Jewish lives here and around Israel and the Jewish world.
But what if you’re not?
What if you don’t feel connected?
And what if you’re not connected in any way to federation, or a synagogue, or a Jewish organization? How do we show you the strengths and vitality and dynamism of community life? How do we connect you to a macro-community that connects all the sources of our pride?
I think we need more and more conversations. With our rabbis and synagogues, with our agencies and organizations. And I’m willing to do more, to be the first to do this on a regular basis.
But I shouldn’t be the only one. And I don’t think I am.
Last week I traveled down to Washington, D.C. to meet with the inspiring and professional team of our national Jewish Federation offices, headed by my colleague William Daroff. We talked about the work our system does together to make sure we’re a prominent force in health and human service policy decisions. We’re advocating for long-term care, helping those at risk, and strengthening the nonprofit sector for everyone. This conversation on advocacy and engagement, led by CRC Chair Gordon Haas and my colleague Melanie Roth Gorelick, is a major element in strengthening our community and building coalitions for all of us.
And this morning I’m participating in a forum of some two dozen federation partner agencies chaired by Sheryl Perlstein and Joyce Goldstein. We’re talking about leadership, security, and working together. And we’ll look at ways that we can deepen our cooperation and benefit the community as a whole.
These kinds of conversations are critical. They’re going to shape our community in the present and in the future. And I hope you can be part of them, too.