When I first arrived here, I went on a listening tour and spoke with a lot of our community about this Federation, its history, and your visions for the future. What I heard was a very clear message: the Federation does three things: It does fundraising; it does leadership development; and it convenes and engages the community. Those are indeed things that we do, but the Federation does a lot more.
We take care of security needs, handle tens of millions of dollars in endowments, serve as the Jewish community’s central communications vehicle, manage the campus, look after the upkeep of our Jewish cemeteries, offer a community calendar, not to mention all the amazing things that happen at JFS, and so much more. There is a long list of things that we do, but that’s not what we are. It’s not our why.
So many of you give your time, talent and treasure to the Federation. We are so grateful to you for that. But I’d invite you to take a moment and ask yourself why. Why do you support the Federation?
I think that the answer that you’d ultimately come up with would not be a list of things that we do, but instead it’s going to be a matter of why we do it.
We need to remind the community that we believe what you believe. That we value what you value. What we do, our role, is put those beliefs and values into action.
Why do we have security? Because we believe in fighting against Jew hate, protecting our community against antisemitic incidents, and educating ourselves and others.
Why do we offer leadership development programs? Because we envision a better future for our community and need to ensure that we have leaders who share that vision and can express themselves in a way that motivates people.
Why do we have engagement programs? Because we think that being Jewish is a critical part of a person’s identity. It’s not enough just to say that you are Jewish – you need to do Jewish, to be proud and support Jewish community
And why do we fundraise? Because we believe that Indianapolis deserves to have a strong Jewish community. And to have that, we need active, up to date Jewish institutions and facilities, skilled professionals, and first-rate
programming that meet people where they are, draw them in deeper, and makes them feel welcomed and proud to be Jewish. And that, like everything else, takes a lot of resources- including money.
This is YOUR Federation. And our why is to look out for the entire community. So when any of our partner agencies are struggling with finances or facilities or participation or whatever, the Jewish Federation takes that personally and is there to help.
We are and will remain the place to go to when services and assistance are needed. We are the community’s backbone for advice and help- but we can only do that with your collective support.
It’s not about the what, it’s the why. At the Jewish Federation, our values are your values. And we are here as your instrument to put those Jewish values into action.
*This column is a shortened version of the Annual Meeting State of the