It's All About the Why
People often ask me what exactly it is that Federation does. Organizations like ours are tough to grasp. We are not a school, we are not a social service provider, we are not a synagogue, and we are not a single issue fundraiser like the American Red Cross or the American Heart Foundation. If you want to understand Federation it is better to put aside the “What” and begin with the “Why.”
Why does Federation exist? Because, as Jews, we take enormous pride in all that the Jewish People have contributed to civilization over the past three millennia and believe we have just as much to contribute in the future. Because being a small, yet global people, we exist in communities that must be well organized and service driven locally, while remaining interconnected globally. Jewish Federations exist in 155 American cities because we are the organizations that look at our community with this in mind. Our concern is the entirety of the Jewish community. No other organization has that mandate.
The Federation mission statement speaks of fostering Jewish life and of initiating, coordinating and preserving activities which “strengthen Jewish life locally, in Israel and throughout the world.”
As far as “What” we do, everything must be seen through the prism of that mission statement. We raise and allocate funds to serve every segment of our Jewish community. Our mission is to foster Jewish life, not a particular approach to Jewish life. Jews are a very diverse people from religious observance to politics, but we are all part of the same community. Federation does a lot of programming because, in a time of weakening affiliation, it is essential to reach out and engage new people, especially younger people. Engagement provides the motivation for broader affiliation. Our preference is to do it in conjunction with others, but we will also do it on our own. We will maintain strong ties to Israel and to other Jewish communities because nearly half the Jews in the world live in Israel and because we must share ideas and experiences with other Jewish communities. Nobody thrives in a vacuum. Federation serves as a convener when we see an unaddressed community need or others bring it to our attention. Finally, Federation works closely with all the agencies, organizations and congregations in Ann Arbor to help them to achieve their own goals because each organization’s success creates a stronger community for us all. This is Federation’s mission.
If you believe as we do that the Jewish People have much to be proud of. And if you agree that strong Jewish communities are the key to our success, then I hope you will partner with us in our mission. Contribute generously to the Annual Campaign so there will be adequate resources to spread across the community. Become more active in whichever organizations you are personally involved and encourage your friends to join you. My favorite thing about community is that we are all in it together.
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