The Power of the Collective

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
One person can repair the world. When many people act in concert, they can change the world in ways that impact lives today and long into the future. It is the power of the collective, when the cumulative small acts of individuals add up.

Last Sunday at Connections, the power of the collective was on display. We learned about the impact that the Federation has here in the Puget Sound region. We heard from Lisa Brashem, co-chair of our Jewish Puget Sound Committee, which works with our professionals on all our engagement initiatives here at home to ensure Jewish continuity. Hundreds of women – and several men too! – gathered to support our work and nourish the many webs of relationships that are the heart of our vibrant Puget Sound Jewish community. As we saw in the Connections slide show, there is so much we can accomplish when we act in concert – helping people of all ages connect to Jewish life, building deeper ties with Israel and with World Jewry, and making sure community life is thriving when today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders of Jewish Puget Sound.

And, as we heard during the slide show, “The power of the collective is that together we make sure if there is any Jew at risk, anywhere in the world, we are there to help.” This past year, when so many natural disasters struck, Jewish Puget Sound played an important role in the collective outpouring of help for the many communities that were harmed by hurricanes, wildfires, and the Mexican earthquake. While the Seattle area geographically is far from the disaster zones, we put our tikkun olam values into action as if the lives of our neighbors were at stake – because in the broad scheme of things, they were.

When Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, I, like many of you, watched in horror as floods washed away whole neighborhoods. Houston’s Jewish community suffered severe impacts – homes destroyed, synagogues and the JCC heavily damaged. The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the collective of which our Seattle Federation is a part, swung into action immediately. Many in the Puget Sound region contributed to these efforts, including our own Federation, which raised local dollars for the cause and provided a $15,000 grant to JFNA designated for hurricane relief. The contributions of Seattle and other communities supported a team that was on the ground two days after the rain had stopped to coordinate relief with Houston’s Federation and JFS. Collectively, millions have been raised nationally so far to help hurricane-stricken communities in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Thank you to all who supported these efforts.

Helping those who suffer in natural disasters is a vivid demonstration of the power of the collective. Yet every day, in less dramatic ways, we put tikkun olam into practice – taking those small but meaningful steps that strengthen community and assure the future of Jewish life. Large or small, your acts of kindness, your philanthropy, and your willingness to speak up for others ripple out and make a lasting difference. Thank you!