While contemplating what I should write about for this edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, it was suggested that I reflect on the past year and discuss the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s accomplishments, achievements and challenges. While I agree these are valuable and important things for our community to know, our Annual Report, AGM and our President and CEO Andrea Freedman’s various donor and community briefings do those topics much more justice.
Since last June, I have used my previous five columns to offer insight into me as your Federation chair, how my view of the Jewish landscape in Ottawa is determined by who I am and what my priorities are; and, ultimately the influence this has on the direction I take with our incredibly talented Board of Directors, in partnership with our president and CEO.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that this is the basis for my comments about being your chair over the past year.
My vision is to meet the expressed desire of our community to focus on outcomes driven by innovation and forward thinking leadership in line with the goals of our five-year strategic plan. I would like my term to be defined as having taken that message very seriously.
My mantra is “be bold, be innovative, create positive, sustainable change and do it with passion or not at all,” and this commitment permeates everything that I do for our community, and in my life.
It requires tremendous energy to face the ongoing obstacles that community life presents. Where does that energy come from? For me, it comes from surrounding myself with a highly skilled and deeply committed leadership team of volunteers and professionals. The drive and passion they have – individually and as a team – to carry out their work keeps me inspired and renewed.
Over the past year, we have achieved many amazing successes and faced some significant and ongoing challenges. Whether those challenges involve Jewish education, security, financial resources, allocations, leadership succession, community collaboration, engagement in Jewish life or asset management, I have learned some very important and valuable lessons that I will work hard to build upon for our community’s benefit in my second year.
• Face to face brings optimal results;
• Symbols of strength inspire extraordinary effort;
• Crises are an open door to change and empowerment;
• A willing minority can motivate others;
• Rally around a purpose;
• Create an identity;
• Balance zero tolerance with 100 per cent compassion;
• Inspire others to take on the challenge;
• Judgment and character defines a leader;
• Let others see the potential in us;
• Conversations need to be values based
• Principle of the “Five- Es”: efficient, effective, equal, enjoyable and experimental;
• Focus on accomplishing something with the appropriate expenditure of time, money, people;
• Keep the agenda ambitious;
• Be honest, forthright, forthcoming and timely;
• Healthy conflict and difference of opinion, a.k.a. healthy debate, is a sign of a community’s vitality, not its weakness;
• Vitality is the most precious asset that will see the community through unfolding changes, whether around the day school or any other issue.
This is by no means an all-encompassing list. For me, however, these are the highlights of my lessons-learned and my firm belief that in volunteer life you get more than you give, including the benefit of continued life-long learning.
I sincerely hope you will consider giving or continuing to give yourself the same incredible gift.