Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Like a Ship, Our Federation is Built for the Open Sea
This saying feels perfect for this moment:
“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
Our ship, the Cincinnati Jewish community, has weathered the COVID storms thanks to you, to our staff, our volunteers, and to the profoundly effective collaboration between our Jewish organizations. I am grateful and proud of our community for the way we have supported people and strengthened organizations over the last 18 months. Our Federation is built for this. We kept our community safe in the harbor.
But while a ship in port is safe—that is not what ships are built for.
Today I want to share some new, truly outstanding programs that the Federation is leading, or central to, that will move our ship onto the open sea with new maps and toward new adventures. And I have to say, we have come out of the harbor with some real speed.
We have already started strengthening Jewish Cincinnati’s future. On behalf of many organizations, Federation convened a Community Forum on August 16 that elicited concerns that will inform how we plan for the next decade. I was humbled that almost a hundred people participated. The Federation will embrace these concerns, which align well with the ongoing work of Cincinnati 2030, our community’s vision and planning vehicle for the next decade.
In reality, the Federation is already embracing the concerns and the Jewish community’s new vision for the future, Cincinnati 2030. Here are three new Federation initiatives that support its vision.
Cincinnati 2030’s plans will profoundly shape our community for the next 10 years.
- A committee of lay and professional leaders are diving deep into the takeaways from two community surveys and the Community Forum mentioned above.
- So far, the committee has established a goal: “Creating our home, together,” and three pillars: engagement, caring, and the wider world.
This valuable work will launch a better Jewish future for our children, and all of us.
In another sign of our community’s alignment in vision, the Federation has been hard at work—organically, before Cincinnati 2030’s vision was articulated—on initiatives that align with these three pillars.
- CARING: For Cincinnati 2030, the caring pillar means expansion of services, but also greater accessibility of services, to all, and especially seniors and teens and young adults.
Federation is facilitating and supporting plans to better support mental health for teens and young adults in our community. In the Cincinnati 2030 planning survey, teen and adult mental health was ranked as “the most significant health and social service concern” facing Jewish Cincinnati. And pre-COVID, Jewish Family Service had concluded that the number one unmet need in the community was the mental health of our youth. Then came COVID, which created even more need.
Our Federation, in collaboration with our partner agencies, is launching several major new initiatives to help. Jewish Family Service’s Youth Mental Health initiative is the first. They have implemented an innovative community-care model, where a family can build layers of resources along a continuum that provide additional support on their mental health care journey.
- ENGAGEMENT: For Cincinnati 2030, the engagement pillar means collaboration, with individual diversity honored, across community organizations.
The second initiative, again with many partners, is the Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial. It is a celebration of the Jewish community as part of the tapestry of Cincinnati for the last 200 years.
2021 marks the 200th anniversary of Jewish community life in the city of Cincinnati, which formally began with the founding of Chestnut Street Cemetery in the West End. This Cemetery was formally rededicated on September 26 with over 275 people in attendance, marking the beginning of the Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial.
We started with a bang, with the Matisyahu concert in Washington Park the evening before, then the ish Festival also in Washington Park on September 26, with almost 8,000 people there enjoying the day. The Jewish community and the City of Cincinnati will host more celebrations and events over the course of the coming year.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO, for example) has four events connected with the Bicentennial; the first two, on the first weekend in October, had capacity crowds.
- WIDER WORLD: For Cincinnati 2030, the pillar of wider world is shorthand for education about antisemitism and Israel; bridge-building; justice advocacy; and civic engagement that is responsible to our own community’s diversity.
The Federation’s nonprofit public relations arm, the Jewish Community Relations’ Council, saw the need to fight hate and extremism in our currently divided culture. Thanks to the vision of community leaders, we created the Leaders in Light Institute as a leadership development program, to develop a network of informed and skilled Cincinnatians who will become stewards of democratic engagement.
On September 14, 27 changemakers from across an intentionally wide cross-section of Cincinnati, came together for a full-day retreat, the first of nine, to explore the relationships between extremism, antisemitism, racism, and democracy. It’s already receiving attention from the press and other organizations across the country.
In recognition of the efforts above, I am also proud to announce a new set of Federation grants, the Special Projects Fund. In support of Cincinnati 2030, the purpose is to pilot new projects to assure a vibrant Jewish future.
Thank you for being a part of our community. Together, we have launched our ship, under full sail, towards a vibrant future.
Thanks for caring about our community and what we do.
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