We Are One. I can’t tell you the precise year, but that was the Annual Campaign theme for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation when I was growing up as a member of the “Frozen Chosen” in the 1970s. It’s one of those formative memories that I carry around with me. It sits in my mind alongside a black tin button with white lettering that read “Zionism is not Racism.” I guess it’s true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. No one would have imagined that these slogans would remain salient and relevant 50 years later. Knowing that may explain why I am as invested in the Federation’s mission to sustain our Jewish community as I am today.
Because, as a Jewish community, we are one. Yes, we argue and have differences of opinion. And yes, those differences can be about fundamental issues like how we express our Jewishness, how we view and support Israel, and the role Judaism should play in our everyday lives. But what else would you expect? Two Jews, three opinions. The important thing is that when we are asked, when we speak from the heart, most Jews say that being Jewish is important to them. The Federation just led a group of younger adults on a mission to Eastern Europe (see page 14). The stated purpose of the program was to learn about the Holocaust and antisemitism. But when participants shared their biggest take-away upon their return, it was that they feel more connected to their Jewishness than ever. Because that’s where it all begins and ends. Being Jewish matters and it binds us together today just as it has throughout our history.
We are one. The Jewish community is spread out. We don’t all live around the Hoover Road campus anymore. We are dispersed not just across our city, but across the country. Many of us are personally touched by what is happening in Israel. We are more interconnected than ever. The Indianapolis Jewish community’s commitment to the Western Galilee region in Israel is called Partnership2Gether. We draw strength from our unity and resilience in the face of war and growing antisemitism. It astounds me that as I speak with friends and peers in Israel to ask how they are doing during this crisis, they are asking me the very same thing! For many Israelis, the rise in Jew hate around the world is more concerning than the War in Gaza. That is unity.
We are one. I speak a lot about the importance of community. It’s my passion. When asked to define what community means, I often say it is a sense of “we-ness.” It’s a fuzzy boundary that people move in and sometimes out of over time. Being a part of a community gives you a sense of belonging and people express their status in different ways. Some dive in deep with their friends and social life entwined and immersed in Jewishness. Others are more comfortable in that grey zone, picking and choosing what is meaningful to them. Either way, and with all the variances in between, we are a “we.” And, for me, that’s everything.
The Federation is here to support, maintain, and provide for you- for our community. We invite you to join our efforts in whatever way you choose. As you look through this magazine, if you see something that sparks an interest, I encourage you to fan that flame. Reach out to me directly or to any member of our leadership team- volunteers or professionals- to find out more. It’s up to us all to ensure that We are One remains more than just a Campaign theme for the next 50 years.