2016-01-20 / Columns

Community Shark Tank is building connections, creating innovation

Federation President

Building community. Collaboration. Innovation. These are the concepts that are critical to strengthening our Jewish community for years to come. These are the goals that the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey is hard at work accomplishing.

On Jan. 10, over 70 community members came together to participate in our Shark Tank initiative, discussing new approaches to address four of the top priorities in our Jewish community: Engagement and education, Israel and overseas, seniors, and special needs. Participants included unaffiliated individuals, representatives from our agencies, the day schools, the synagogues, BBYO, AJC, Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice, as well as those from a few organizations new to the collaborative effort, such as Jewish Plays Project, Bags of Books, and SCORE.

The room was buzzing with creative concepts from people willing to take risks and to try new ideas. Shark Tank facilitator Nanette Fridman of Fridman Strategies encouraged us not to be afraid of “failing forward” so that we take chances and learn from our mistakes. Places like Silicon Valley thrive on this model, and now it is time for our Jewish community to be as bold and innovative.

As I walked around the room listening in on the small group sessions for each of the priority areas, I saw real collaboration in action. Representatives from our area day schools teaming up with their counterparts at the synagogue Hebrew schools—all looking for ways to get the next generation in the door and have them feel passionate about their Jewish education. The group discussing seniors talked about logistical issues for people who are aging, and those discussing special needs focused on shared information and resources. And the Israel and overseas group explored numerous ways to incorporate technology to leverage community resources among synagogues, day schools, and Federation agencies.

Now is the time to step up and be part of the change! The Shark Tank kick-off was just the beginning. There is still time to sign up to be part of an idea team or to be a Shark.

Please contact Ronit Boyd, director of planning, at rboyd@jfedsnj.org with any questions. A special thank you to our Shark Tank organizers, Ronit Boyd and Michele Ettinger, Federation vice president.

With all the excitement of Shark Tank, please don’t forget the most important day and week of the Federation year— Super Sunday/Week 2016! Sign up to reach members of our community. It is a mitzvah to help someone else give tzedakah! This is YOUR community!

Make the call. Answer the call. And please consider increasing your gift to cover the demand of our services.

Why should you give? Here are just a few reasons: PJ Library. Summer camp. Gift of Israel. Senior housing. Israel education. Day school education. Vulnerable Jewish populations right here in South Jersey, in Israel, and around the world. Absorption and aliyah. Training future leaders. Security. Emergency response. Community building and engagement. We provide opportunities and support from birth through end of life.

The Jewish Federation and our family of agencies are here for YOU. Be there for US on Super Sunday!

Register online at jewishsouthjersey.org/supersunday or call (856) 751-9500 ext. 1117. .

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