People are often surprised by the variety, breadth and depth of our work at the Jewish Federation and the J. While it is a challenge to share the full scope of daily activities and the unique stories of the people with whom we interact, it is one we welcome and embrace. We connect groups of people, no matter how big or small, to develop communities within the larger community creating lifelong connections and life-changing experiences.
I am asked a lot of questions about our community today and about our future. I assume that many others are also curious, and I encourage questions. My door is always open whether you are at The J or we happen to see each other at the grocery.
One of the most pressing and often asked questions is “Where will the new J be built?” Our JCL board has approved a recommendation based on a great deal of study and work, and we are proud that Dutchmans Lane will continue to be our main campus.
The overwhelming feedback from our charrettes, surveys and stakeholders
indicate that we have the best location right here on Dutchmans – the site we have called home since the 1950s. Not only are we conveniently located near expressways, but our demographics indicate that younger adults and young families are remaining or moving closer to town. The centrality and easy access from Dutchmans Lane is ideal as we grow and increase our reach.
Our community is diverse and has distinct needs and aspirations. We are committed every day to each unique moment. While we can’t be everything to everyone, we are proud of our ability to take on new initiatives and strengthen our legacy programs.
I wish everyone could see what I see, that spending time at The J or with our Federation can lead to remarkable outcomes. A perfect example is Dara Woods.
After moving to Louisville in 2014, Dara joined The J for the fitness center, but also looking for a Jewish community. At the J, she found a place to bring her children for Jewish programs and summer camp.
Dara stopped by my office one morning to share that she wanted to get involved as a volunteer. She was interested in a program called the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), which she had learned about through a friend in Indianapolis. Since that time, Dara has recruited and co-led two JWRP trips to Israel. The most recent trip included a group of 19 women who traveled to Israel for this life-changing experience.
Not only did Dara stay true to her desire to become a leader, she opened the door for other women to find their own personal connection to Israel and Jewish community.
Twenty-two young professionals are also starting their own journey as we launched a new Young Leadership Development initiative connecting these young professionals with mentors who are experienced community volunteers and who share similarities in both professional and community interests. Through this effort I am confident we will see many more young leaders bring their talent and passion to the community.
We are in the people business and we never lose sight of that. Lifelong relationships are built in Early Learning Center, summer camp, fitness classes and around the table at every committee and task force where our volunteers convene.
Now is the time to get involved at the Federation or at the J. Please let us know what you think and how you would like to be involved.
(Sara Klein Wagner is the president and CEO of the Jewish Community of Louisville.)