I have been involved in Federation for a long time.
I started in college, where my exciting Hillel experience was, in part, supported by the local Federation.
Over the years, I have used the services of Federation-supported agencies and volunteered for Federations in two different communities.
I have seen firsthand the breadth of Jewish life that Federation enhances and I am thrilled to have worked for Federation these last 10 years as JCRC director.
The JCRC is not a separate agency, but a committee of the Federation. I am an employee of the Jewish Federation of Louisville. I am proud of the work we have done, particularly in recent months as racial unrest has gripped our community.
We have met this challenge by working with leaders in the Black community, pledging our support, and promoting A Path Forward, a comprehensive planning document that addresses systematic inequities in communities of color.
We have hosted several Zoom calls dedicated to racial injustice issues, hoping that education leads to positive action. Among other things, we learned about “the talk,” a discussion young Black men have with their parents about how they must behave when confronted by the police – for their own safety – and how that behavior is necessarily different than when white people interact with authorities.
We heard from Black women, who have their own unique experiences with racism, and from Rev. Joe Phelps, the 2020 Blanche Ottenheimer Award winner, who works on getting white Louisville out of its comfort zone, teaching it to recognize racism.
We heard from Marion Vasser, director of diversity education at the University of Louisville, as she explained what implicit bias is and how all are guilty of these biases.
Nationally, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the umbrella group of Federations across the continent, allocates millions of dollars in government funding every year for security enhancements. This is largely because of the lobbying work done by the organization. The Secure Community Network, a project of JFNA, provides security recommendations, monitoring and enhancements to all Jewish institutions. We have put them to good use right here.
Finally, the Israel Action Network, another JFNA project, supports Israel, monitors BDS activities and provides a national platform for pro-Israel activity. We are fortunate that JFNA and our own local Federation are so much more than fundraisers. The programmatic arm of Federation is doing work for our community that is so vital, particularly at this time.
This is not a pitch for more money, but a sincere effort to promote a sense of pride in an organization that was, is and will be working for Jewish interests and values.
(Matt Goldberg is the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.)