Have I got a Jewish community for you!

“Have I got a Jewish community for you!”

I’m of the opinion that most jobs today are in sales. I don’t mean just wholesale or retail. Rather, I think most people are in their own market trying to get people to choose to use one particular travel agency, doctors office, law firm, financial service company, etc. over another. I know this is absolutely true for me.

As a proud member of the Jewish Communal Professionals Association of Indianapolis (JCPAI- I made that up) we are in the business of encouraging people to give to our cause, attend a certain program, join our synagogue, celebrate a holiday. Our market can be sterilely defined as “households with at least one person who identifies as Jewish.” We offer incentive items like delicious food, entertainment, even free trips, but ultimately, we’re trying to sell you something that we believe to be valuable. And what is that valuable commodity? It is nothing less than the Indianapolis Jewish community.

I want to draw a distinction now. I believe that there is a big difference between “the Indianapolis Jewish community” and “people who consider themselves Jewish and live in Greater Indianapolis.” I hope you know what I mean without too much description. After all, we talk about this all the time. If our local Jewish population is about 18,000, where are they all? We don’t see them on the High Holidays, at the JCC, or listed as Federation donors.

Recently, Elise and I spent a lovely evening having dinner with a couple who have lived in Indianapolis for over a decade. One of them was raised Jewish, the other was not. The one who was, grew up in a family that is very active in their synagogue and local Jewish community. Together, they are raising their children with a Jewish identity and have a deep commitment to Israel.

This beautiful family has connections with Jewish communities outside of our state because it remains important to them. Without judgement, I share that here in Indiana they do not belong to a synagogue, did not regularly attend Jewish communal events, did not seek out Jewish friends or spaces, and did not contribute to the Federation’s Annual Campaign.

In the past couple years, their older child was directly confronted with an antisemitic incident at school. The JCRC was contacted and became involved in a very difficult situation. When Israel was brutally attacked on Oct. 7, they were deeply affected. This led to our dinner and their recent participation in a Federation program. Our community is here for them, and they are grateful.

My point is this- please don’t take our wonderful Indianapolis Jewish community for granted. Yes, it is entirely possible to live a “Just Jewish” life with the reassurance that if you ever need our community, it is here. My colleagues and I work every day to make that happen. But what if we fail? Because we cannot do this alone. What if our synagogue membership declined to the point where we can no longer justify keeping Sunday School happening or the sanctuary doors open? What if our Annual Campaign shrunk so that we could not pay or hire staff for the JCRC or Jewish Family Services? What if…?

If you are still reading this, you probably get it. You know that it takes effort, people, and money to sustain our community. With a community the size of Indianapolis, this requires conscious, constant, and increased attention. Without your active engagement and generous financial support, we are in danger of becoming Jews who live in Indianapolis rather than a thriving and vibrant Jewish community.

It is my pleasure and privilege to be one of your lead salespeople. I think we have an incredible product for you. I guarantee it will enhance your life and the lives of everyone in your family, both now and for generations to come. It’s worth having at any price because not having it is an expense that we truly cannot afford. Step right up into my showroom on Hoover Road and let me tell you all about it.


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