DREAM BIG IN 2021 - January 8, 2021

We realized over time that due to changes in our email delivery system, many people were no longer receiving Marc's Remarks. They are published every Friday at 9:00 a.m.. With the start of the new year, we have broadened the email list to include everyone. I hope you will find my weekly comments of interest.
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My head is still spinning following the actions on Wednesday in our nation’s capital. I was shocked and horrified by the events, to say the least! But amidst the darkness of the day’s events, I was proud of our elected officials who returned to the Capitol and worked through the night. They could have “called it a day.” Instead, our representatives made sure that our democracy prevailed.
Earlier this week at a Jewish Federation staff meeting, I asked my colleagues two questions for the new year:
  • What is one resolution you have for your professional work?
  • What is your resolution for our Jewish community?
It was a very positive and cathartic discussion. Here are thoughts people shared:
Resolutions for Professional Work:
  • Communicate better – Listen better
  • Reenergize myself (based on being an employee for so many years and due to COVID stressors) for the work we do
  • Keep everyone sane after all of this
  • Create the best programs and events possible
  • Utilize the new technology skills I have learned and seek out even more
  • Be more open to feedback and opportunities to learn
  • Add greater excitement to the work we do
  • Focus on work/life boundaries. While working from home it seems work never ends since there is no physical separation
  • Create more realistic timeframes and expectations for my colleagues
  • Take more time to “just think” about our Jewish community
Resolutions for our Community:
  • Now is the time for introspection and courage to do what may be best for the Jewish community as a whole and not just for an individual organization. Community leaders will need to make hard decisions.
  • Act before it is too late. We have a choice -- we can be proactive or reactive.
  • Create and deepen relationships and partnerships with those outside the Jewish community.
  • Welcome people back in person (events, meetings, workplace). We must acknowledge there will be a transition period and “re-entry phase” that we will all have to adjust to.
  • Feel comfortable with “new and different” (which will be the case as we enter a post-COVID era), even if it can be scary.
  • Bring the community together after being isolated for so long. This is an opportunity to be a part of something larger. Perhaps create a mega-event that brings thousands of people in the Jewish community together in-person (when able)?
  • Develop a community-wide leadership “pipeline.”
  • Do an in-depth community study to better understand who we are as a Jewish community and use that information to appropriately plan for the future.
  • Most interestingly, since our meeting was on Tuesday morning, is that someone spoke about helping our country re-commit to its democratic values. I almost did not include it on this list since it seemed disconnected to the other thoughts. Today, I understand why it needs to be here!
I am excited about the months ahead. There is so much we can accomplish. I am grateful to the Jewish Federation leadership (volunteer and professional) for their work on behalf of our entire Jewish community. We recognize the opportunities and look forward to helping lead the process.
Here are two thoughts to consider going forward:
  • One goal of all institutions is stability and longevity. But perhaps the question should be: At what point do stability and longevity compromise the business of nourishing and enlivening Jews and Jewish experiences? I believe Jewish institutions do so much for our Jewish community. But the majority of our Jewish community does not participate in our Jewish institutions – what is our response to those seeking Jewish life and Jewish experiences in other ways?
  • Just because it works for one generation does not mean it will work for the next. In fact, we might even say that if it worked for one generation, that is a good indication that it will not work for the next. How do we find that “blend” to meet the needs/interests of multiple generations going forward?
Our community is blessed with many successful programs, services, and organizations that are “building Jews” (self-defined) and creating meaningful Jewish experiences. Let us also acknowledge there are gaps in what is being provided and supported. We must be able to define those areas and find ways for our community to fill those needs.
Let me close with two ideas for all of us to work on in the year ahead:
  • Make space in your life for the things that matter – for family and friends, love and generosity, fun, and joy. I hope this comes out the right way as I believe COVID has helped us see the preciousness in this.
  • Dream – Seemingly the least practical activity turns out to be the most necessary, and most often left undone. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” What journey are you on? What do you want the next 1, 3, 10 years to be like for yourself, your family, and our community? What are the possibilities and what will give you a sense of accomplishment?
To paraphrase Albert Einstein, we can all learn from yesterday, live for today, but most of all, dream for tomorrow. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve -- the fear of failure. I assure you the Jewish Federation, in collaboration with others, has no fear and will dream BIG in 2021!
One final note, please join us for a community “wellness” Havdalah service tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m.. For more details and to register, please click here.
Shabbat shalom and best wishes for a very healthy and happy new year.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO


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