The following blog first appeared Friday, June 22, as an email update from Keith Krivitzky, CEO, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We had a lovely Major Donors social event last night, with cocktails and conversation before a showing of Songbird at the Two River Theater last night. This is a great example of how we are looking for ways to connect with our key investors and supporters in fun and engaging ways.
My role last night, besides smiling and looking pretty, was to talk about the Federation, our value proposition in the community and case for giving and why the support of key donors is so critical. Not being familiar with the play actually a musical I asked what it was about…and I was told “missed connections” in terms of relationships and love. Ok…and so based on that, I gave what I thought was a good talk, highlighting how the Jewish Federation is all about preventing missed connections within our community and among our extended Jewish family. How bad things happen, as we see around us and in news headlines these days, when people are disconnected and don’t feel like they belong.
I talked about how we continue to do this in some traditional core ways, like CARING for the vulnerable and making sure we make sure they know they are not alone and address their needs, as well as CONNECTING as many Jews, particularly younger Jews, to the Jewish people by demonstrating how being a part of community can enrich their lives. I also talked about how we play a key role in ensuring connectivity in new but critical ways, such as addressing anti-Semitism in our midst and building bridges with Israel and that we are the lead player in addressing gaps in our community.
Lastly, I closed by saying that increasingly, of late, I tend to see the glass as half empty in terms of the health of our community as I am sure you appreciate from these updates. But I still think there is hope because, as reminded yesterday by Tal Becker, that for the first time in recent history we can fill the glass. And it is the support of our key donors and partners that enables us to fill the glass and ensure there aren’t more missed connections in our community.
Honestly, I thought it was a really good talk.
And then I saw the show.
Now…Songbird is a modern update of the Chekhov play, The Seagull, set in a country music setting in Nashville. The production quality was phenomenal, as is the case with most Two River shows. And I learned that, while I am not that familiar with Chekhov’s works, apparently they are usually characterized by alcohol, dysfunctional families and messed up relationships, and death.
Let’s just say that my allusion to missed connections…apparently totally missed the point of the show. I still hope people took away a good message from my misguided plot summary…and I’ll leave the speech/update about how dysfunctional and messed up we can sometimes be as an extended family for another time. ;-)
With that, some reads for the rainy weekend:
- We are seeing this more and more part of what the Federation is stepping up to address: https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/government/2018/06/20/wall-township-anti-semitism-nazi-propaganda-jewbacca/715305002/
- Interesting and important reads about Michael Chabon and his speech at HUC: https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/3252/borders-conversations-and-the-reform-movement-a-response-to-elli-fischer/
- Some of the other big challenges the Federation is addressing: http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/dont-cry-for-us-jerusalem/
- A neat piece on Millennials, somewhat related to our Jewish future: https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2018/6/21/17487974/millennials-meaning-age-young-old
A note here…we had a very interesting and engaging board discussion about what is currently happening on US borders. Our leadership is pretty unanimous that separating families is very bad, even horrific but there was also recognition that as an organization we don’t tend to issue statements or proclamations and that for us to achieve our mission we need to stay focused on the key problems and challenges we face and are dealing with every day…which is pretty much what I was talking about above and reflected in the links immediately above. But, that doesn’t mean we aren’t sensitive to what goes on around us and we applaud individuals and groups that seek to put their particular passions and principles into practice. We also need to encourage more education and discussion of how Jewish values play out in these situations. And that is why I am sharing a piece from the mother of a friend and former colleague: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/ct-letters-immigration-families-border-disease-20180619-story.html
And now…best for a Shabbat Shalom!