The following blog first appeared Friday, February 2, as an email update from Keith Krivitzky, CEO, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I often get asked the question: how's the Federation doing? For better or worse, that's a difficult question to answer simply because there are so many moving pieces and changing circumstances. I've talked before about all the curve balls that seem to come our way, for example.
On the one hand, the Federation's core philanthropy is going strong. We've increased the amount of funding we provide for grants and impact in the community, and the number of people who are touched through our grants and programs has increased.
On the other hand, there is no sugarcoating the fact that raising money is more challenging, donors have different interests and approaches to how they like to give money, and it's harder to cut through the noise out there. Professionals and volunteers have different expectations, and there needs to be different expectations of them. What used to work in the past won't take us to where we need to go, and we need to operate more intensely and more intelligently. And in new and altered ways than before.
On the other other hand, the Jewish world is changing radically. What turns people on Jewishly or engages different audiences has shifted. Our organized Jewish community has not shifted enough in response, and many institutions are struggling. If the Federation’s mission is strengthening our Jewish community, we have an important role to play here too, even if this is outside of our usual playground or comfort zone.
This preamble is designed to set up two things. The first we have been working on some framing of the strategic issues we are facing as a Federation and in our Jewish community, as well as clarifying what our role and priorities are in addressing these issues. I look forward to sharing some of this thinking with you in the next few weeks and months as we begin a new calendar year.
Secondly, a friend and colleague (hi Rabbi Schonbrun) shared a great metaphor with me yesterday that I think aptly describes what we are going through as a Federation. It used to be that we had a clear roadmap to follow, where we could simply plot out how to get from point A to B. Today, there is all of this congestion, construction and confusion out there, and the old set of written directions doesn’t really suffice. Instead, there are better ways to make progress, or to adjust in real time just like when using the driving app, Waze.
That’s very much like what is happening when we are redirecting and making adjustments in real time given the circumstances we face which are constantly in flux. It’s a good metaphor and worth thinking about. The good news is that, ideally, when you do adjust and get nimble at following these new directions and course corrections, you can get to where you need to go quicker and with less tumult along the way.
With that, some reads for a chilly week.
• Read of the week: http://www.newsweek.com/anti-zionism-just-anti-semitism-another-name-792948
• Powerful words from Mr. Flatow: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-shiva-call/2018/01/28/
• Mixed feelings about this: https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-year-of-renewed-chilly-us-cuba-relations-puts-squeeze-on-islands-jews/
• A growing issue: https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-ex-envoy-warns-israeli-leaders-not-to-burn-bridges-with-democrats/