Home Moral guidelines The Jewish Federation is here to serve

The Jewish Federation is here to serve

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[Hillel]…[also] said: if I am not for me, who is for me? But if I’m for myself [only], what am I? And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

Shammai says: Fix your Torah (study time); say little and do a lot; and greet each person with a pleasant expression. (Pirkei Avot 1:15)

The question I’m most often asked is, “What exactly does a Jewish Federation do?” Certainly, each Jewish federation in the country is an independent organization with its own board of directors and its own staff members who define their own mission and their own objectives. We are all members of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), a national organization that provides us with important resources and services enabling us to work more effectively and with a stronger voice on issues of concern to Jewish communities across the country, in Israel, and in the world.

But what exactly is the job of a Jewish Federation? I believe our job is to support and engage members of the Jewish community internally and externally.

Internally, we create meaningful Jewish content programming, partner with other Jewish organizations to maximize our collective input, financially support our teens to travel to Israel, and financially support Jewish organizations through the Community Grants Program of our Jewish Community Foundation to enable them to continue their important work of service to the community. We also work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement to help keep the Jewish community safe.

Externally, we are an important voice for our Jewish community to the community as a whole; we convene the Jewish community to participate in social action projects as we work to tikkun olam, fix our world; we develop relationships with elected officials, civic leaders and other community stakeholders to strengthen our collective efforts to ensure that every member of our community is treated with dignity and respect. We strive to be a supportive, engaged and helpful community partner.

Our Jewish Federation has done a lot to make a difference within the Jewish community:

• The Jewish Community Foundation has amended the guidelines for the 2021 grantmaking process to support our affiliated agencies based on their immediate financial needs arising from the impact of the pandemic. The total amount of funds awarded was $325,500, including a $100,000 emergency grant to the Seashore Gardens Living Center.

• The Jewish Federation donated $25,000 to meet the emergency needs of local Holocaust survivors by becoming a Jewish Family Service (JFS) community partner for the KAVOD-SHEF program. This partnership and donation has enabled JFS to receive matching funds to help provide a better quality of life for Holocaust survivors. Our leaders believe we have a moral imperative to ensure that Holocaust survivors can live their lives with dignity and respect.

• The Jewish Federation staffs and funds Stockton Hillel, where we help young Jewish students deepen their Jewish identity, make friends and develop leadership skills. In the fall of last year, we reached 64 students through vacation-related programs and opportunities at Stockton University. We are pleased to continue our partnerships with the Chabad program in Stockton, believing that bringing together Jewish students in every way possible serves them and our entire community.

• The Jewish Federation’s Young Leaders Program, NextGen, is for young adults in our Jewish community, including young families (MiniTribe) and interfaith couples (Entwined, which is in partnership with the Board of Jewish Education) . In 2021, NextGen engaged 195 people with meaningful Jewish moments, social opportunities (online and in-person), and networking.

• Our LIFE & LEGACY partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation enabled 248 members of our Jewish community to make 482 donations to our Jewish organizations. Community members create incredible legacies to ensure that our Jewish community will be strong for years to come.

Many people think that the mission of a Jewish Federation is simply to raise funds. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our job is to build and support our Jewish community in as many ways as possible. Our mission is to complement and support the important work done by other Jewish organizations. Sometimes we are the lead organization and sometimes we play a supporting role for another organization that takes the lead.

Nonprofits need a balance of three things to be able to serve others – the three Ws – wisdom, hard work and wealth. Like all other nonprofits, we must have a healthy annual campaign to provide resources, programs and services. But we ALSO need community members to bring their knowledge, experience, and passions to our decision-making. And we need community members to help us implement the decisions we make as an organization. Not all of us can provide all three Ws, but many of us can provide at least one of them.

The Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties is here to serve. Thank you to the many people reading this article and supporting the work we do. For those of you who haven’t been involved (or haven’t been involved for a few years), we’ll be honored to have you involved with the Jewish Federation.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or (609) 822-4404, ext. 150 to discuss how you would like to be part of our sacred work.