24 May 2019
Earlier this spring, I wrote to you about Federation’s first-ever Pitch Night. Nearly 50 organizations gathered to share 68 innovative ideas for engaging the next generation in Jewish life and expanding the reach of Jewish life in Northern Virginia. Click here for an inside look at the energizing evening.
I am excited to share that last week, Federation’s Board of Directors approved more than $1 million in funding for 31 of the proposals we heard during Pitch Night.
The selected ideas are set to infuse our community with creative, innovative, and impactful programming, initiatives, and offerings that will greatly strengthen Jewish Greater Washington.
The ideas vary in approach. Some will help successful models to grow into new regions. Others will reimagine the way institutions currently connect with the Jewish community, changing historical boundaries between members and non-members. Still others are seeking to create new organizations that can build community in distinct ways for new people across the region.
They also vary in focus. Proposals from Moishe House, Hadar, and others are focused on building networks of young Jews and giving them the training and support they need to engage their peers. Temple Rodef Shalom, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, and others will help new parents and interfaith families to connect with each other and with the community. Additionally, initiatives like the one from the Israeli American Council will help Israeli Americans connect with their neighbors through Jewish text study, discussion and overall community building. There are also many ideas for making Jewish life more accessible and inviting. From growing OneTable’s “noshpitality” program to opening a collaborative event space in Northern Virginia, organizations are determined to reach out and engage more people.
Our investment in these proposals reflects Federation’s core commitment to finding great ideas wherever they exist, bringing together our community in new ways, and mobilizing our community in effective action.
As Pitch Night and our larger Strategic Planning Task Force process so clearly proved, our community is full of amazing people and ideas for strengthening the Jewish future. We are creative and forward thinking. But ideas alone will not get us to where we want to be. In order to create the change we all envision, we must bring resources to bear and focus on implementation. Now is the time to give new ideas a chance, take risks, and scale what is working.
Not only are we eager to see new initiatives take root, we are also excited to cultivate new partnerships and increase collaboration between our communal organizations. Before Pitch Night, many of our local leaders had never met one another. Looking ahead, we are committed to closing the loop and supporting leaders in exchanging ideas and working together to meet crucial communal needs. Our vision of engaging the whole community in an open, connected, and vibrant Jewish life cannot be achieved by any individual organization. We must work on this collectively, understanding and appreciating the unique value and roles that we bring to this work.
This work is at the core of who we are. We want to help bring the people, organizations, and resources together to address the most critical issues we and the global Jewish people face today. We want to spur new thinking and help move those thoughts to action. In our changing times, we want to do everything we can to leverage impact and innovation to the benefit of Jewish Greater Washington.