Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
C2020 in 2016: Gary Greenberg
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s visionary plan for building an exceptional future. This week, the Director of Community Building at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Barbara Miller, and the chair of Cincinnati 2020, Tedd Friedman, talk with Gary Greenberg, the Jewish Federation’s Vice President for Israel and Overseas.
How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020?
I was invited to join the 2020 Steering Committee by its leaders, and as the Federation Israel and Overseas Vice President, I am involved in moving the Israel engagement portion forward.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you?
Cincinnati 2020 is a well-balanced effort to make the best possible use of our limited resources to ensure a vibrant Jewish community in greater Cincinnati. I am pleased that Israel engagement is deemed a vital part of this effort, because in my view, the bilateral relationship between North American and Israeli Jewry makes both stronger, healthier, wiser, and more interesting.
You’ve been credited with having the vision for the recent Israel Summit, which brought more than 100 lay and professional leaders and Israel educators together to strategize about how American communities can increase Israel engagement. Where did this idea come from?
Our Cincinnati 2020 goals include increased engagement with Israel. When I became Federation Vice President for Israel and Overseas, I soon realized that many local Jewish organizations are engaged with Israel but within their own silos, which means we might not be making the best use of our community’s overall resources to achieve our Israel-related goals. I put this in front of Federation’s lay and professional leadership, and we agreed to invite all of our Israel-engaged organizations to a summit to learn from each other and discuss what we might do better together.
Israel can be a difficult topic, even in the Jewish community. How can Cincinnati 2020 bring people together in an effort to strengthen Israel connections and advance Israel advocacy?
The balance in Cincinnati 2020 is between and among the various benefits and challenges of coordination, collaboration, and competition. There is no “central plan” for the Cincinnati Jewish community, nor can there be given our diverse views and practices. This is certainly true for Israel engagement, where the differences are substantial. And so we strive for the widest range of engagement opportunities, for the apolitical and across the political spectrum, as long as the individual has a genuine concern for the well-being of the people and state of Israel.
Did anything about the Cincinnati 2020 and Israel Summit collaborations surprise you?
Regarding Cincinnati 2020, I was impressed by the way many community leaders overcame or set aside their substantial differences to work together for common community goals. As for the Israel Summit, the turnout was much larger than I expected, to be honest! Which, of course, was a pleasant surprise!
Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful so far in increasing Israel engagement?
The success of Cincinnati 2020 as it relates to Israel engagement will be measured by the number of people who participate in Israel-related programs and activities, both here and in Israel, and the quality of that participation. We are making progress!
What does the future of Israel engagement look like, through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
I believe we are moving forward, especially in light of the 2016 Cincinnati Congregation and Community Israel Mission scheduled for this summer. We hope to maintain the engagement of the participants, and we hope that their friends and families will also be positively affected.