A New Year’s Message from Gil Preuss

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A New Year’s Message from Gil Preuss

As we approach the end of December, I am writing to thank you for all that you have done this past year. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help another person. Thank you to everyone who responded positively when asked. Thank you to those who provided time, wisdom, creativity, passion and much more to strengthen our community. It is thanks to you and your ongoing commitment that our Jewish community in Greater Washington continues to grow and thrive.

As we near the end of The Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign, we celebrate the incredible generosity of this community. Nevertheless, we recognize that, though the funds we raise are critical to reaching it, our collective goal is not simply to raise more money. Our goal is to help build a stronger, more vibrant, more inclusive, more engaged, more connected and more caring Jewish community, locally and around the world.

Over the past four months in my new role as Federation’s CEO, I have worked to meet as many people as I can, and I’m very grateful for the warm and open welcome I’ve received. From our conversations, I have sought to understand our communal strengths and our challenges, recognize our opportunities for improvement and draw from those areas where we already excel. I have asked people about their hopes and dreams for our future in Greater Washington, both as a Jewish community and as part of American society in the 21st century. I want to understand what people are seeking from Federation and what we can do to help achieve our collective hopes and dreams.

I look forward to continuing these conversations well into the new year, learning from and with many more of you. To date, I have found that four themes or “tensions” can help shape the future role of Federation.

  • Cohesiveness and Diversity – Federation must seek to recognize and celebrate the diversity within our Jewish community, while also strengthening our cohesiveness and capacity to act together. We must recognize that on many issues we agree, even while we pointedly disagree on others. We must recognize that debate is, in fact, core to the Jewish tradition. Nevertheless, there is deep concern that we may be losing our capacity to come together when necessary due to larger forces in our society pulling us apart. We must strengthen connections between people and build ties to our common past that can serve as the basis for building our collective future.
  • Leadership and Community Voice – Federation must provide leadership on important issues facing the community, while being responsive to the voices within it. This includes setting clear directions for progress, while actively seeking community input on our priorities and approaches. We must build ways to ensure ongoing conversations about key communal needs that can serve as the basis for clear action and overall leadership.
  • Continuity and Innovation – Federation must operate at the intersection of continuity and innovation. We must understand and build upon our past, while continuing to innovate in how we connect and build the Jewish future in the face of increasing challenges. The Greater Washington Jewish community is one of the most creative and innovative in the country. It is critical that we embrace and support this innovation, while continuing to strengthen those organizations that provide critical services and already engage so many.
  • Accountability and Enabling Others – Federation must hold itself accountable to delivering measurable outcomes, while simultaneously working and supporting others to advance our shared aims. We are strongest when our community is focused on common objectives and works together to achieve those goals.

The more conversations I have, the more apparent it becomes that across all of these areas, there is more that we as a Federation and as a community can do. There are many people searching for community who are not finding it within our existing offerings or organizations. There are people in need of services who do not know where or how to access them. There are people who do not feel that they have a place or voice within our community.

Over the coming months and years, as we seek to grow and strengthen Jewish life in Greater Washington, I hope you will participate in these critical conversations, and that you will continue to commit your time, your thoughts and your resources to make our Jewish community stronger, more vibrant, more inclusive and more engaging.

To make sure that your impact is felt in the coming year, please consider making your Annual Campaign gift by December 31 by visiting shalomdc.org/donate.

No matter how you choose to commit to furthering our community, I thank you again for the role that you play in Jewish Greater Washington, and I look forward to connecting with you in 2018.

Happy New Year,

Gil