Have you heard the buzz in our town square?
People are talking about our Jewish future -- and I’m encouraged by what I hear. Conversations about our shared vision start with “why?” When we start with “why,” it explains our purpose and the reason we exist and behave as we do. And the best way to answer the “why” question is with a rich, descriptive narrative articulating what we aim to achieve within our community.
With this in mind, I’d like to pick up the conversation where I left off with my high holiday message: “The Federation is primed to advance our aspirational community-building goals. We’re motivated to work and prosper with our community partners in 5784.”
The Fed is developing a strategic plan. The plan’s nickname, Vision 2025, is a three-year community plan. In turn, annual business plans with specific initiatives and targets must be created to support the strategic plan. The Fed’s business plan will be approved by the Federation board and made public every September. It is essential that the plan’s outcomes are measurable, and that the community receives reports.
When the last strategic plan (2016-2020) was created, an excellent mission, vision, and core values that remain relevant today were approved. Today, as in 2020, when I was starting my onboarding as the new executive director, there was a palpable concern about the Federation’s impact and questions about our community’s sustainability. Then COVID struck and upended everything – except for one thing, my ability to listen. Navigating these unprecedented challenges during the pandemic resulted in many community consultations and, more recently, culminated in the FED Talk Series.
Based on my understanding of the issues our community is grappling with, I envision the plan focusing on three ideas:
Building a stronger Jewish ecosystem
Expanding access to our Fed campus
Ensuring our sustainability as a collective
Community capacity-building efforts noted above are the building blocks that underpin Vision 2025 and tend to focus on some combination of four major strategic areas: leadership development, community organizing, organizational development, and fostering collaborative relations among organizations.
In the 21st Century, the plight of many small Federations is to struggle to find a long-term sustainable business model to deliver impact on their mission. Your Fed team believes, and experts agree, that organizations must continually invest in their future. Without investment, most organizations would not survive – and this is true for our small Jewish community that aims to move forward and renew.
Our community’s financial sustainability requires us to recalibrate our collective thinking around community development, organizational membership, and fundraising. I’ll work closely with my board to develop the Federation’s strategic plan in the coming months. But our common task will only be completed once we sync our respective strategic plans. Our ability to coordinate our planning is essential to the change process that, when prioritized and streamlined, can help smooth and accelerate the path to change.
There is talk in the town square. I’m grateful for the many ideas, viewpoints, and strategies for investing in our future that have already been expressed. Meeting the evolving needs of Jewish Michiana requires an ongoing analysis of community data. The insights from your feedback will continue to be collated, analyzed for consistent themes and direction, and used extensively to shape the big community picture with a clear vision and course of action.
The only impossible journey is the one we never begin. May 5784 be a blessed journey for each of us and our community.
Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley
Phone: (574) 233-1164