A symphony of change
Nature constantly reminds us how to orchestrate change. Inevitably, trees let go their leaves. There’s no fuss. It’s expected. And for our part? We plan for the change every year.
But, before a forest lets go the leaves, it dazzles us with a final burst of glorious color. This, after all, is a celebration. Leaves are like the memories from which trees receive energy. The forest celebrates this good fortune each autumn.
And so today, I talk about orchestrating change in our own Jewish community. Change presents itself whether it’s welcomed or not. And just as in nature, we too celebrate the memories that give us strength.
As a community, we accept responsibility for guidance in a changing world. We work hard to ensure that change is good – so that all of us benefit.
Today, at a pivotal time in our own local community, it’s time to embrace and orchestrate the change that confronts us. By orchestrate, I mean work together -- intentionally toward shared goals.
Active leadership will unlock the synergy of this golden opportunity. It will sustain and even grow our Jewish community over the next several decades.
Perhaps you know Temple Beth-El received and the congregation voted to accept the purchase offer of their beautiful building. Temple leaders are now evaluating their options as they look for a new home. This momentous development is sparking “what if” and “wouldn’t it be great” conversations about our future.
As one congregational leader stated after a meeting with counterparts, “we discussed mutual interests and the idea of working together, along with the Federation to further build the synergy of our Jewish community. We all agree that working together will benefit “each of us and all of us.”
Clearly, religious congregations will chart their own paths as they consider the future. As for me, as the Executive Director of your Federation, I hope that we will meet on common ground and seize this moment of change.
The demographic shift we witness locally and nationally in the Reform and Conservative movements offers valuable insight into how we might envision our collective future. Do we paddle upstream and ‘hope for the best?’ Or do we face change and actively map out a plan that’s guided by L’dor V’dor, from one generation to the next.
Hope is powerful and inspirational. But hope is not a strategy. It’s not a plan.
The Federation does not have a magic solution to the demographic shift in our community. But we will stay true to our mission. We will remain a pluralistic and inclusive resource.
Such is why we’ve worked so hard the past few years to improve the Jewish life and culture on our own campus. It’s why we’ve introduced a Holocaust Remembrance Garden and grown our summer and winter camps. It’s why we’ve developed a 3-year plan called Vision 2025. And it’s why we believe our 28-acre campus offers creative options.
I’m optimistic that the wisdom of our community will prevail. Our local leaders are experienced and motivated. Our golden opportunity is to embrace change and mount a full-scale response to adapt to our new realities.
You might even say that our spiritual, intellectual and cultural leadership is a simmering milieu of change in itself. New leadership abounds.
Our Orthodox congregation has welcomed Rabbi Danzinger to the community. Rabbi Ginsparg has assumed leadership at the Midwest Torah Center. Rabbi Rubin’s Liberal Jewish Fellowship is approaching its first anniversary. Chabad of Greater South Bend under the leadership of Rabbi Gansburg continues to expand programming and outreach efforts. And both Rabbi Friedland and Rabbi Companez and their congregations are contemplating their futures.
Where does the Federation fit into this picture? What role do we play?
The answer is simple. We are open to possibilities.
Having spent much of my adult life in Chicago, I’m familiar with the great 19th century architect Daniel H. Burnham who said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
Yes, our ‘blood’ can be stirred. And the role of our Federation is to be instrumental in bringing us together while it happens.
Does ‘together’ mean here on our gated 28-acre campus? We’re open to all of the possibilities. And the convening of our Jewish community here on this 28-acres, is but one of those possibilities.
If our future is to be a thriving and diverse Jewish community, then this lovely campus is well-positioned as a resource in that pursuit. Here, we can meet. Here, we can nurture the hopes and dreams that serve as fuel for the roadmap to a stronger, more resilient Jewish Community.
In fact, discussing mutual hopes and dreams is the crux of our upcoming Fed Talks program. Fed Talks will immerse us all in conversation and establish the criteria against which we will measure our success in the future.
Please join us for these valuable conversations. They are important. And we need you.
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