Reinvent. Rethink. Rebrand. Innovate.
They’re all buzzwords we hear today — whether talking about education, health care, product marketing or Jewish communal work. We’re living in a time in which endless access to information and 24-hour communication is challenging us to question just about everything. As a result, we have seen new models of business, philanthropy and outreach throughout the world. For some, the opportunities are tremendous.
In the Jewish community, we have also witnessed a new age of innovation. Birthright, Moishe House and PJ Library are just three organizations that have emerged to fill our communal needs. And at this year’s annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations, we are going to take a good look at how we can continue to maximize our potential.
We will know we have been successful when attendees leave with just as many new questions as answers and are inspired to continue the conversation long after the conference concludes.
The theme of the G.A. is “The World is Our Backyard.” The program amplifies this message through a combination of thinking sessions and inspirational moments, high-level speakers and new opportunities for federations to share their best programs and strategies and discuss their scalability.
In Florida, for example, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando recognized how tough it is for adults with disabilities to find jobs. So JFGO started a program called RAISE (Recognizing Abilities and Inclusion of Special Employees) that not only matches adults with special needs to part-time jobs, but also gives those employees professional support and job training, helping them to become valued and productive members of the community.
In San Francisco, the Jewish Community Federation was struggling to figure how to engage young people in philanthropy. The result was to schedule events around different themes that the federation supports, whether Jewish camping or LGBT programming, with each attendee asked to make voluntary contributions.
In Vancouver, Jewish leaders saw the difficulty in getting social services to suburban areas and came up with JHub Richmond, which provides office space, meeting rooms and administrative support for social workers, counselors and peer support staff from various agencies in their work with clients, family members and caregivers.
These kinds of programs are in our Jewish community backyards throughout North America. When Jewish Federations of North America solicited 153 North American federations for ideas to feature at this year’s GA, to be held Nov. 9 through Nov. 11 at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, we received 250 submissions, selecting 50 to showcase.
By featuring these 50, we’ll be giving representatives from across North America the opportunity to gather ideas, share stories and question their colleagues on what worked for them, what didn’t and what they learned along the way.
It’s collaboration at its best.
And that’s what the General Assembly is all about: Federations are able to amplify the successes of their own communities to others and think about the ways we can have a greater impact on the issues and concerns we share.
Being together will fuel our neshamot, our souls, allowing us to return to our communities renewed and inspired.