2017-06-21 / Columns

Federation is working as our community’s convener to build collaboration

FEDERATION 411
JENNIFER DUBROW WEISS
Jewish Federation CEO

When we describe our areas of impact, community engagement may be the hardest one to define. It’s less about a program or service and more about the feeling you get when you’ve found your “home away from home.” It’s the unity that comes with belonging to a strong and vibrant Jewish community and the creation of friendships that feel like family.

The Jewish Federation plays a huge role in building community here in Jewish South Jersey—even behind the scenes. The Jewish Federation serves as the community convener and is always looking at ways in which we can increase community engagement, through volunteerism, learning, discussing and doing. Our goal is to bring people together and strengthen the core. Today we must expand our collective opportunities with a wider net to sustain our ever changing and vibrant Jewish community.

Community engagement is also bringing our local synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish organizations together for collaboration. Shared services are one of those ways we can collaborate with our fellow Jewish non-profits. This was a top agenda item at the first meeting of the Jewish Organizations’ Presidents Council this year. As a result, an initiative was launched to create a survey to explore security issues, purchasing power, and facilities maintenance. We will be exploring opportunities for sharing resources, such as providing information to help our fellow Jewish nonprofits better negotiate with their vendors and bidding together on certain services for better (bulk) pricing. We are excited for a year of working together to better serve our community!

Our Planning & Visioning Committee is looking to continue the valuable work that was started based on the findings of the 2013 Pop Study. We are excited to announce the launch of a Community Tracker designed to foster conversation within the organized Jewish community in South Jersey about trends, opportunities, patterns, and needs so that we can plan collectively. Working together will strengthen our community, increasing opportunities for us all. Once we have compiled all the data, we will share our findings with the community and the collective leadership to further our progress toward becoming an even more vibrant, thriving, and engaged Jewish community.

We also have an amazing one-day conference in the works for professionals in Jewish communal service right here in South Jersey. Early childhood, day school, and religious school teachers, as well as Jewish nonprofit staff and lay leaders are invited to attend our Community Professional Development Conference on Sunday, Sept. 10. Dr. Ron Wolfson is our keynote speaker. He’s a visionary leader of American Jewry, the co-founder of Synagogue 3000, and the author of “Relational Judaism.” We will be exploring best practices for developing social relationships with Jewish meaning to enhance our South Jersey community.

All of this is the work of our Center for Impact & Innovation, which was built on the success of the Department of Jewish Education with a focus on education, engagement, evaluation planning, and visioning. The Center collaborates with local synagogues, agencies, and Jewish nonprofit institutions to provide new and innovative programming and to ensure we continue to have a vibrant Jewish community here in South Jersey

 jweiss@jfedsnj.org

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