The High Holy Days provide a meaningful time for self-reflection and introspection. Personally, while I, of course, think about family, friends and business, I also spend a great deal of time considering our community.
Serving as chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa is exceptionally rewarding, but it is also demanding, particularly because, in a community of 14,000 Jews, there are at least that many opinions. But mostly because I care deeply about our community and so constantly question what we can do better. How can we positively impact a greater number of people?
I believe we have gained significant momentum over the past few months. Our strategic planning process was collaborative, and we reached out to many agencies, synagogues and community organizations asking for feedback as to where we could strengthen relationships. By paying attention to input, we were able to help our valued agencies with both dollars and practical assistance.
Our support for Israel has never been stronger, as witnessed by the large attendance at the recent Israel gatherings that Federation organized. On three separate occasions, in the middle of the summer, many hundreds of community members came out in solidarity with Israel. This tremendous community spirit and Jewish peoplehood provide momentum and energy for us all. As any sports fan will tell you, momentum is powerful, and it can also swing very quickly. The question is how can we use this momentum, how can we make our community even stronger?
The answer involves all of us. In June, a new five-year strategic plan was approved at our annual general meeting. It is Federation’s plan for the community. Federation now has a responsibility to implement the approved strategies and ensure the plan is actualized and does not languish on a shelf. Words like inclusion, transparency and collaboration are not simple buzzwords, but have to become part of our day-to-day operations, essence and conduct.
As your chair, I take very seriously the responsibility of translating words into deeds. I know that, in order to do, to create, to build, to help, good intentions and hard work are not sufficient. Dollars and cents are required. And this is why a key goal in the Federation’s strategic plan is to increase the Annual Campaign.
Quite simply, the Annual Campaign is the engine of our community. Every additional dollar we allocate to agencies translates into additional needs being met in Ottawa and Israel, more people being helped, and the ability to provide increased Jewish experiences for community members. There is no question that the Annual Campaign is of paramount importance as an engine, but I would encourage you to consider the possibility that the Campaign can also be about inclusion. Anyone and everyone can make a meaningful and beautiful gift. Anyone and everyone can participate.
We are about to begin another year in the Jewish calendar. There are many themes to the holiday, including renewal, celebration, creation, evaluation, accountability and responsibility. Each of these themes is important when we look at the potential of our community. This year, please consider how you can contribute to achieving the goals contained in Federation’s strategic plan. Help us translate words into deeds.
On behalf of my family, I would like to wish you all a sweet year. Shana Tova, Am Yisroel Chai – b’shalom.