JCL Update 10/23/09

[Archived from October 23, 2009]

Editor’s Note: Through this column, elected members of the Jewish Community of Louisville Board provide updates on progress made since JCL’s formation and share their thoughts with readers.

by Amy Ryan

When I think about all the hard work that each person involved in making this new organization a success, I have to admit I have wondered a time or two … what makes us show up?

With 8,000+ Jews in Louisville, why is it that these 24 board members, staff, and many other volunteers are taking on new roles at this pivotal time in our community’s history? Why is it that these people, who have very busy family and professional lives, are willing to take on this very important challenge?

I am learning that it is because we all share a connection to a common purpose. We believe that even though there are no easy clear-cut answers to how we will reshape this community, we share a desire to create a lasting Jewish community and experience Jewish connection. I think that this is why we show up. We may not express it the same way. We may not express it at all. In fact, we really don’t go around talking about it. Instead, we are taking action and making progress.

We show up to review expenses, align systems, and create a single budget. We meet; we e-mail, take phone calls to and from work and discuss plans. We close Campaigns, make allocations, and turn around and kick the next Campaign into gear.

We form committees, devise ways to evaluate and prioritize programs to meet the needs of our stakeholders. We create search committees, engage consultants, review resumes, prepare to interview candidates. We create a new brand and new ways of using our website so that we can partner better across the community and calendar our events without conflicting with other Jewish programming. We craft mission statements and we hope, above all, that these words will become a reality for our community.

This is because we are Jews and this is what Jews have done through good times and bad. We have held on to the core beliefs about what it means to be Jewish and, in doing so, we have inspired lifelong leadership and learning.

When I listened to Rabbi David’s [Ariel-Joel] sermon during the High Holidays, I saw that what we are doing is nothing more than what our rabbis have taught throughout the generations. “That we have a responsibility towards each other to enable … new beginnings.” Rabbi David shared with us that: “A Jewish society is one where we make sure that reflection, self-criticism, self-evaluation and the ability to accept new horizons and new ideas are things society fosters and encourages, even at a high cost. We are individually responsible not merely to refrain from hindering each other’s growth, but that we must be willing to forgo what is rightfully ours in order to ensure that our fellow citizen’s can grow and change.”

While I think Rabbi’s story was speaking more to personal growth, it also applies to the growth taking hold in our community. When you think about what we are doing to build the JCL we are growing and evolving. We may not talk about it or even express it the same way.

We might have agreed to take on this challenge because we want our children to have a strong Jewish identity or to just have a place to play basketball with other Jews. We may work on creating new programs so that our children have a reason to connect with Jewish friends in the midst of our busy secular lives. It might be about Jewish camp, or we may want to be sure the opportunity to experience Israel with others remains. It might be because we believe strongly that a full-service facility is important or that a physical building does not need to exist at all.

Yet, at the end of the day, we all want a Jewish Community that meets the needs of our people today and in the future. We are working hard to create the right processes and governance so that we can thrive financially and sustain the organization for future generations.

That’s really what we talk about while laboring together to create the future for this community and that’s what I took away from Rabbi David’s sermon, when talking about the teachings of rabbi’s that came long before him, in times much harder than these.

He told us that: “A Jewish society is … one where we allow others to do teshuva, where we are not threatened by the desire of others to move in a new direction. A Jewish society is one which understands that to be fully human is to not allow our past failings to limit our potential; to be fully human is to accept our failings and yet, aspire to overcome them.”

So much progress has been made to date. Other board members have written about it in this column. We will continue to work together to make this new organization one you can connect with and that is why we show up.

The act of showing up creates connection and connection is creating transformation. So connect I ask you to connect with JCL by joining a committee, attending a program, or letting us know what you think because this is your community and we would like you to show up.

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