by Edward B. Weinberg, Board Chair
On May 1st, we created the Jewish Community of Louisville by merging the Jewish Community Federation and the Jewish Community Center, and we embarked on what we knew would be a challenging and exciting new chapter in our history. Now, six months later, it is appropriate that we look back at what we have accomplished and, more importantly, look forward to our next steps.
We started this process with our eyes wide open, aware there were pressing issues we needed to deal with, and that we must pull the community together if we are to succeed.
We started by creating a new Board for the JCL that is truly a community Board. Its elected members include young, emerging leaders and veterans from all parts of the community. They are a dedicated group of individuals, committed to doing the difficult work we need to ensure that our new organization delivers what our community needs and is ready to continue to do so in the future. Its discussions sometimes have been spirited – but no less so than the discussions of any group dealing with immediate challenges while forging a new organization.
That work started with the Program Review Committee. Karen Abrams, Sheila Berman and Jeff Tuvlin brought together more than 40 people who evaluated everything we are currently doing and identified service gaps. Their diligent work has resulted in a detailed report that lays the groundwork as we continue to shape our Jewish Community of Louisville. Details of that report were printed in the December 18 edition of Community and are available online.
Your JCL Board is already taking the next steps! We are currently forming a Planning Committee chaired by Kate Latts and three members each from the Program Review Committee, the Finance Committee and the Facilities Committee. This committee, working with facilitators Ted Farber and Deena Shoenfeld from Washington, is charged with taking the Program Review Committee’s report and reviewing its recommendations with respect to both the financing and facilities needed and what is currently available.
From these efforts, the committee will recommend a plan that defines how we will implement the Program Review Committee’s report in our facilities, how we will finance them.
Middle School Director
One of the most urgent recommendations from the Program Review Committee’s report is that the community should hire a middle school director to create programming for middle school students and get them involved with the Jewish community.
A JCL program at the JCC on Martin Luther King Day drew 45 middle schoolers. We must be able to build on this success and continue to offer programs these sixth, seventh and eighth graders want.
To ensure that the JCL fulfills this need, on January 20, Board member David Klein issued a challenge grant. He will provide $18,000 per year for three years for a middle school director and programming if the community matches that amount.
This is a tremendous opportunity we cannot afford to pass up. Your Board members are working to secure donations to meet this challenge and are determined to reach this goal. If you are interested in contributing to the Middle School Director challenge grant match, please contact any JCL Board member or the JCL office, 451-8840.
Campaign and YAD Challenge Grant
As the JCL moves forward, the amount of funding available ultimately will determine what we are able to do and how fast we can implement the needed changes; and the available dollars are determined by the success of the JCL Annual Campaign.
I’m pleased to report that we have cause for cautious optimism. The 2010 Annual Campaign is off to an excellent start. The results of the Young Adult Division’s Main Campaign Event and the Major Gifts Dinner are in and the results are very positive. Gifts to this year’s Campaign are up 27 percent over the same gifts last year, and to date, we have raised $1.2 million.
In addition, at the Major Gifts Dinner, William Yarmuth injected excitement and energy into the Campaign by issuing a two-part challenge grant. In recognition of the leadership younger adults have shown in the merger process and to encourage them to participate financially as well, Yarmuth pledged an additional $50,000 to the Campaign if YAD doubles the $47,000 raised at their Main Event.
YAD has responded with positive energy and has scheduled a special telethon this Sunday, January 31, ahead of Super Sunday, to kick off their efforts to meet Yarmuth’s challenge.
Yarmuth also challenged the rest of the community to add to his match – not necessarily dollar for dollar, but with an additional penny, nickel or dime per dollar. So far, six people have answered his call to leverage YAD’s fundraising. There’s still time for you to add power to this challenge. Just let a Board member know or call the JCL office.
The Women’s Division of the Campaign has also scheduled its Lion of Judah event this weekend. They’ll hear from inspirational speaker Susan Jackson and will have the opportunity to keep the 2010 Campaign moving forward.
From the beginning, your JCL Board has striven to communicate openly with the community. Many different Board members have shared their thoughts through this JCL Update column, and we will continue to do so. We include our e-mail addresses so you can contact us with your thoughts and concerns.
On February 1, we’re taking another big step forward. Our new website will launch at www.jewishlouisville.org. I’m very excited about it. This website is dynamic and loaded with information, not just about the Jewish Community of Louisville, but about our entire community.
We’ve been working closely with every synagogue and agency in the city to ensure the site includes current, accurate information and links. There’s also a public calendar right on the front page. Celia Triplett, our talented web master, has been meeting with representatives from every group to teach them how to post events on the calendar and familiarize them with the features the site offers.
For more details, see the story on the front page of this paper; then check it out for yourself on Monday.
The key to the success of our Jewish Community of Louisville in the years to come is ensuring that the best possible professionals are in place to provide direction and effective management for our JCL. This is not a decision to be made lightly.
As we search for the right president for the JCL, Ron Greenberg has generously been serving as our transition director. We’re grateful to him for keeping us on track and moving forward.
We have undertaken a national search for the permanent JCL president, and worked closely with the Jewish Federations of North America’s Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence. The Search Committee, chaired by Doug Gordon and David Kaplan, have narrowed the field down to just three candidates. Watch for an announcement of the new president in the near future.
As was announced earlier, David Weinberg, the CFO, will be retiring in February. A search for a new CFO is currently underway. I wish to personally thank David, who also is my life-long friend, for his many years of dedicated work in managing our community’s finances.
There are many ways our JCL is coming together to serve the interests of our community. Our Accounting Department has merged and is working to integrate all its functions to serve the community more efficiently. In addition, the seasonal JCL Program Guide now contains information about all programs our agency offers from classes and arts events to The PJ Library, The Mothers Circle and much more.
While there is still much to do to make our JCL what we want it to be, we have accomplished a great deal in six months and I remain very, very optimistic about Louisville’s Jewish community!