20 January 2023
Throughout my time working for and serving the Greater Washington Jewish community, I have become increasingly convinced of a core idea: we are more effective when we work together. I have found this to be true at the individual, organizational, communal, and global levels, whether working through a complex subject as I did a week ago or overcoming evolving communal challenges that require close collaboration. I say this not as a negation of the power or agency of the individual to create something amazing and influence change in this world, but as an observation about how change and impact occur over time and where our community has found the most success.
I believe this to be true for several reasons. First, and perhaps most obviously, is that different people and organizations bring different skills and perspectives to a problem or opportunity. Our unique experiences, understandings, and relationships come together to build a stronger outcome. And while some initiatives may take longer, the diversity of experience can yield solutions with greater and more inclusive impact.
On a communal level, we have many organizations working to care for our most vulnerable, educate adults and our children, fight antisemitism and hatred of all forms, and engage people in Jewish life, among many other efforts. We each focus on a particular population, geography, program, and approach. But when we come together, we make an even greater impact on our core goal: building vibrant Jewish life. This is because the people who we are trying to serve don’t operate within the framework of an organization, but through their own lives.
As an example: for individuals and families in need, the pandemic significantly exacerbated an already challenging situation. Combating financial vulnerability as well as food and housing insecurity continues to require substantial collaboration from a wide variety of institutions across our community, including JCCs, synagogues, and health and human service agencies, each bringing specific expertise and abilities to the table. And while this ongoing and evolving issue presents an enormous challenge, individuals, families, and the overall community have been and continue to be meaningfully affected by our collective efforts to support them in their time of need.
Beyond our collective capacity to develop more effective programs and meet the needs of the community, our ability to work together achieves a second goal – strong relationships. Essential relationships between individuals strengthen us as a collective and build trust and confidence over time. This trust and confidence in each other are at the core of our work, enabling us to be effective today and even more so into the future as we create a connected community where everyone feels that they belong. Moreover, this trust enables us to collectively tackle ever more complicated issues and build a community of our hopes and dreams.
I am grateful to work with so many people who approach not just our challenges, but our opportunities, in ways that strengthen our work and further our impact. Our collective success will be marked by our ability to strengthen and elevate our relationships with one another as we build vibrant Jewish life together.
So, as we forge ahead this year, one where we will undoubtedly face new and evolving challenges, I hope we continue to use our close relationships and build upon them to make our community and this region stronger than ever.
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