A lot of ideas have come across my desk these past few weeks. Some of them need more work, some are really powerful and engaging. Some are about the federation itself, how we work, how we think, how we act. And some of the really interesting ideas I’ve heard are about our community and who we are.
We’re a big Jewish community. Sometimes we forget that. And while a big Jewish community needs a pluralistic and diverse array of institutions and responses, it also needs to grapple with big issues too.
For example: we’re starting to think about the affordability of Jewish life in our community. How can a middle-income family, for example, make it Jewishly while living in Greater MetroWest? How can you afford day school or religious school, camp, Israel missions, JCC membership, books, and all the accompanying extras of being Jewish in New Jersey? How do we work together to create a community-wide strategy on affordable Jewish life, keeping it inclusive and meaningful for all? And how do we make sure that we’re not fighting against each other to achieve each single (important) aim while missing the big picture?
There are some things (I think) that a Jewish Federation shouldn’t do. But this isn’t one of them.
We don’t have to create all the conditions for an affordable and inclusive community. But we do have the responsibility to create the forum in which we can convene everyone to discuss the issues and see what platforms we can generate.
Not just that. We also need to look at how we “brand” and recruit for our community in the area and beyond. If you live here you already know that it’s a great place to live. But how do we tell that to others – as a community?
We’re going to take a deeper look at this issue in the coming months.
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