Shep Englander — Federation Journal
L’Shana Tova from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
On Rosh Hashanah we reflect—as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a people. We reflect on our values and recommit with renewed purpose. This is how we as Jews have always made ourselves and the world better. When the shofar blows, we may reflect with God, in our own way. But we don’t wait for God to change the world. We call upon ourselves as individuals and as a community to affect change.
Last year, the world gave us much to reflect on—from a polarizing election cycle to a surge in hate crimes. Recently, we were shocked by the hate speech and antisemitism that shook Charlottesville.
During unsettling times, a supportive community becomes even more important. Ours has become one of the most collaborative, well-organized Jewish communities in America. We draw strength from our history and from our Cincinnati 2020 vision of an engaged and empowered Jewish community. Our progress is powered by strong partnerships among our Federation and Foundation, our partner agencies, and congregations.
Our Israel & Overseas leaders made Cincinnati the first community to launch a US-Israel coalition to educate and advocate for the State of Israel to fully respect diverse forms of Jewish expression. And last month, we hosted opportunities to express concerns directly to Israel’s top diplomat for our region. We need to continue to express our views.
Jewish Family Service, Cedar Village, the Mayerson JCC, and JVS Career Services are working together to collectively care for our seniors. Older adults want more independence and more choices. At the same time, the healthcare and aging services markets are erratic. So we are helping with what we’re calling Cedar Village 2.0—a comprehensive strategic plan assessing all options that could enable Cedar Village to advance its mission despite accelerating changes.
Young adults engage with the Jewish community only to the extent they are convinced that they can chart their own journey. This spring, we convened more than 300 young adults for an open dialogue about what they want from Jewish Cincinnati. They asked for a young adult portal—a digital space dedicated to young adult expression and connection (supported by the Federation’s Jewish Innovation Funds).
All these challenges require committed volunteer and professional leaders who build vision, trust, and action. For example, we developed a top-flight Jewish communal professional development program—the Monaco Jewish Nonprofit Leadership Institute—now in its fourth year—comprised of 16 Jewish agencies, schools, and congregations.
This year we celebrate Israel at 70—the Jewish people’s return to its source to create a modern Jewish State. We savor the Jewish sovereignty for which our people have yearned for a millennia—and the security and independence it brings.
I am grateful to all who are involved—in and outside the Jewish community. Thank you to all who give of your time, wisdom, and resources. Thank you to all who give to the Federation’s Annual Campaign, which has funded Jewish life here for over a century.
Wishing you and yours a year of health, love, and growth.