Quite recently, I was called a helicopter father by my brother and a helicopter son by my mother. I am sure my wife would bestow me with a similar designation were I not hovering over her so much. I actually hold such as terms of both endearment and honor. And as Alliance CEO, I believe that I need to assume an aerial view of our community–not in a helicopter but figuratively from 30,000 feet up–in order to maximize both my effectiveness as well as that of my agency. From that perspective, it is quite evident that we are not yet effectively meeting the needs of our younger families, Millennials, and NextGens across our state.
And we are hardly alone. As our old friend Rob Goldberg, the former executive director of Temple Beth-El and currently the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Buffalo, told me: the paradigm of the organized Jewish Community model has radically changed both at the agency and synagogue levels. At one time, institutional leadership ensured philanthropic support, which then fostered community engagement and membership. This was a tried and true model that worked for decades. But now Jews no longer simply join synagogues, become members of JCCs, or give to annual campaigns as they once did. The pyramid has been inverted, such that community members must first be engaged as they wish to be engaged and have their needs met “where they are.” If achieved, such community members will most likely become vested, seek communal involvement and leadership positions, affiliate with our synagogues and agencies, join our JCCs, and then donate to our annual campaigns. We can no longer be complacent, and must adopt strategies to master this new Jewish communal paradigm.
This weekend more than 30 adults involved with (401)j will kick back and enjoy a memorable Shabbaton at Camp JORI. This group of dynamic Jews, ages early 20s to mid-40s, are dedicated to building a thriving Jewish collaboration in the “401.” Over the next three days they will celebrate Shabbat, participate in workshops, spend free time in an idyllic camp setting, have the opportunity to build connections with each other, strengthen their Jewish identity, learn, nosh, have fun, relax, and more!
In order to best ensure the future success of our RI Jewish community, we must all strategize and work together to better attract and engage our younger families and members of our community. However, we will be unable to do so unless we work together and side by side with this dynamic demographic. If anyone would like to join me on this helicopter ride, I would be so glad to have you as my co-pilots. Rest assured, I am prepared to captain this voyage until we have reached our destination.
Shabbat Shalom, and best wishes to each of you, but especially to the wonderful NextGens who hold such promise for all of us,
Jeffrey K. Savit
President & CEO