21 February 2020
This is part of a series of messages about the way we are thinking about our work in 2020 and beyond.
No conversation about the Jewish future would be complete without considering how the very nature of Jewish identity is evolving. At Federation, we care deeply about fostering a strong, vibrant, and welcoming Jewish community. But as an essential prerequisite to this work, we are also committed to recognizing and exploring the ways in which our community members think about their Jewish connections and Jewish story in the first place. Looking ahead to the decades to come, we want to ensure that we keep our finger on the pulse of how Jewish identity is shifting more broadly, and work to support an open and honest conversation about who we are and what we need to thrive.
Thankfully, our community has largely moved away from asking “who is a Jew?” to asking “how do we engage more people within the Jewish community in a way that welcomes them and connects them to the beauty of Judaism, our collective memory, and our yet-to-be-determined future?” We must return again and again to this guiding question. At a time when people hold multiple and evolving identities and can move freely across them, we must push ourselves to create more pathways through which everyone feels supported to explore their individual identities and shape our collective future as a people.
That is why we are excited to be able to elevate the perspective of Jews like Daveed Diggs. In a few weeks, Diggs will be our keynote speaker at Federation’s Main Event, where he will discuss his experience being black and Jewish in America today. Many of you will recognize Diggs for his Tony Award-winning performances in Broadway’s megahit, Hamilton. He is a highly accomplished actor, writer, rapper, and producer, and we look forward to learning from him about his many innovative projects, the latest of which dives into contemporary race relations.
We must advance a Jewish narrative that is authentic, meaningful, and inclusive of all members of our community, including Jews of Color, LGBTQ+ Jews, Jews in interfaith relationships, and others who continue to seek recognition and representation in the Jewish community. Indeed, in an era when the Jewish community is undergoing significant structural and philosophical changes, it is more important than ever that we hear each other’s stories and that we understand, appreciate, and celebrate each other’s perspectives.
I invite you to do just that at our Main Event on Wednesday, March 25. The evening is sure to get you thinking about the incredible potential our community has to transform Jewish and civic life in Greater Washington and beyond. I also hope that our time together leaves you inspired and motivated to connect with one another and continue strengthening our community.
In fact, you can start right now by inviting a friend to join you at the Main Event. For those of us who are well connected within the community, it is easy to walk into a room that feels familiar and comfortable. But for those who haven’t known how to get involved or have not felt welcome, attending large events can be uncomfortable and intimidating. I encourage you to find those people and bring them with you.
We can all do more to create introductions and be the person who helps facilitate a sense of connection and belonging. We can all be instrumental in sharing our stories and pushing our collective understanding of Jewish identity forward.
Shabbat Shalom and see you soon!
Visit this page to learn more and purchase tickets for Federation’s Main Event.