The Resilient Community

On my nightstand, there is a seemingly endless stack of books. On top of the pile is The Resilient Society, by Princeton’s Professor Markus K. Brunnermeier. I learned of the book from an online review, and was intrigued by the topic. I’ve long thought about the idea of resilience as one we must consider as a community; and, in particular, how community can strengthen the resilience of individuals or individual organizations. Embracing this as a goal will be crucial for the future of Jewish communal life in a rapidly changing world.

As I made my way through Brunnermeier’s work, several important themes stood out to me:

  • Weathering storms with a “bend but not break” mentality and building capacity to recover and prepare for similar “shocks” in the future will help organizations during and after an emergency. As a community, we can and must provide critical incremental human and financial resources during a crisis to ease this flexibility and increase long term success.
  • Innovation provides critical growth and capacity over time, allowing organizations to experiment and connect with changing communal needs. Federation’s support for innovation and experimentation can reduce risk to organizations even as they try new things and build resilience to confront future challenges.
  • As members of a community, we hold an implicit social contract that no person or organization stands alone. Our support of and engagement with each other is vital to building resilience, because while one crisis may put immense pressure on one set of organizations, the next might bear down on a different set.

These themes feel particularly resonant when I consider the partnerships that arose during the pandemic, as communal institutions worked together to reduce its impact on any individual organization.

In Brunnermeier’s encouraging lessons, I see the reflection of how Federation and our partners shifted our work; how we continue to set and pursue communal goals; how our leaders view their roles; and how we came and will continue to come together to address our most critical challenges. All of these are central to the social contract we increasingly hold with each other in building our collective community.

Today, the importance of interdependence has never been clearer. When we come together, we uplift those in need, strengthen our Jewish community, and build a vibrant Jewish future.

As always, I welcome your thoughts. Thank you to those who wrote in about my most recent reflection! This week, I’d love to hear what you think about communal resilience, what we can do to further strengthen our resilience, and how we can continue to take on challenges together.

Shabbat Shalom,

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