Keeping Up with a Changing Community

I always have viewed the High Holidays as an opportunity to reflect upon the events of the previous year and about the year ahead. Oscillating between thinking back and looking forward is sometimes enough to make my head spin.

Though I am too pragmatic to dwell much on philosophy, I can say for certain that while DNA determines who I am, my values and the choices I make determine who I become. I joined Federation because I believe a vibrant Jewish community benefits all who live in the Puget Sound area. As I think about the future, I am reminded that being adaptable is woven into the DNA of our Jewish history. It’s enabled our Jewish identity to survive and thrive, including locally, where an adaptable Federation is part of Puget Sound Jewry’s DNA.

If predicting the future is a fool’s errand, adapting for the future is not. As part of a changing community, we, as Jewish professionals, must evolve with it. The results of our Community Study have made us aware that the Jewish population has increased by 70 percent in the last 12 years. While it is good to remind ourselves of the valuable work Jewish organizations in the Puget Sound area are doing, it’s also important to recognize, as this research also tells us, a significant portion of our Jewish community is unconnected to local Jewish life. 

The observation that no one organization is able to meet all the needs of our diverse and growing Jewish community should not surprise anyone. Our synagogues, Chavurots, Hillels, day schools, the Jewish historical society, Holocaust center, Jewish youth organizations, JFS, the JCC and the Federation all serve significant purposes and complement one another, yet there is more work to be done. 

We all share the same DNA. We all are deeply invested in our community, enriching Jewish life in the Puget Sound area. For almost a century, Federation has led the way in its support for local programs and organizations dedicated to this mission.  Federation has always been a leading voice through which Puget Sound Jewry expresses its support for Israel. We lobby in Olympia and throughout Washington State and in DC for initiatives that support Jewish causes and Jewish values.  

As I think about the role Federation will play in the coming years, I’m aware that looking into the future is more about insight and eyesight. Federation needs to work in conjunction with the other community organizations to continue creating opportunities where Jews can explore the many facets of their Jewish identity. An element that is key to this process of discovery will be to help individuals connect in welcoming places and engage with like-minded people who recognize and celebrate our common faith and heritage. These connections will be looked back upon fondly. For the future, these connections will sustain our community members throughout their lives.

It is going to be an eventful year for the Federation and for me. And though, at times, it’s enough to make my head spin, I am reassured knowing it’s amazing what we will be able to accomplish as we work together to strengthen an already vibrant community.

L’Shanah Tovah!