Striding Forward

Friends,

The 2020 Pew Research Report on American Jews underscores our different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives on Jewish identity. The survey found the next generation of Jews is growing racially and ethnically diverse, and more than 60% of Jews who married after 2010 married someone of a different faith. For some, the Jewish religion is not necessarily what drives their connection to Jewish peoplehood, while for others, the Orthodox tradition is increasingly appealing. Additionally, and unsurprisingly, our relationships with Israel vary greatly.

What this tells me is, more than ever, people are turning to the Jewish community with different wants, needs, desires, and expectations.

We witnessed this firsthand during the height of the pandemic—people sought out the Jewish community for emergency assistance, access to resources, or emotional and spiritual support. They also searched for opportunities to connect with one another and explore Jewish life despite, or because of, the challenges we faced. Looking back on the last year and a half, I am immensely proud of the way our community worked together to respond to the full range of needs as effectively as possible. I hope we continue to act on this impulse.

Indeed, I think the next chapter of Jewish life depends on our ability to understand what it is people are looking for and what will help everyone feel a genuine sense of belonging. Regardless of what initially draws people to our Jewish community, we want to ensure it is a place they want to stay, form new connections, and deepen their sense of self.

In other words, vital work remains. Taking care of others during a crisis is no small feat but determining what our community members need to sustain their physical and emotional lives once the pandemic subsides is just as important. This is a chance to engage in more in-depth exploration and dialogue to uncover what will best serve individuals and families. Now is a time to really see one another, recognize, honor, and celebrate our unique perspectives and worldviews, and then work together to strengthen a community that can support everyone on their unique Jewish journeys.

If you are interested in hearing more about what that work might look like moving forward, I invite you to join Federation’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 17. Our keynote speaker, Nadine Epstein of Moment Magazine, will inspire us with her thoughts on the potential of community in 2021 and beyond. I am excited for her remarks and the conversation to follow them, and I hope you will join us for a look back at the past year and a preview of what lies ahead.

In the meantime, as society reopens, I am feeling optimistic about our community’s future. I can already picture our community doubling down on the care, creativity, and adaptability we demonstrated during the pandemic. I see us not just navigating our way back to where we were but striding forward to create a community fully capable of reflecting the hopes and aspirations of all its members.

Shabbat Shalom,
Gil