Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Cincinnati 2020 in 2017: Fred & Kathy Kanter
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s collaboration to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community by the year 2020.
This week, we hear from Fred and Kathy Kanter, Israel at 70 cochairs.
Federation: How did you first get involved in or hear about Cincinnati 2020? What is your role now?
Fred: Cincinnati 2020 is a community-wide initiative that Kathy and I participated in the development of several years ago. Currently, we are chairing this year’s Israel at 70 events.
Kathy: Also, I am a past chair of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Partnership2Gether (P2G) program, which builds people-to-people connections between Cincinnati and our partnership city in Netanya, Israel. I also currently serve on the Israel and Overseas Allocations Committee.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you?
Kathy: Cincinnati 2020 is a 10-year vision created by members of our community who are passionate about making sure Jewish Cincinnati continues to thrive. It is more than just a vision, though. It is a strategic effort to move the Jewish community of Cincinnati toward reaching specific goals that will make our community exceptional.
Fred: Cincinnati 2020 strives to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community. It’s about the community being around and being strong for our children and our grandchildren. It’s about making sure we take care of our community members, and making sure our community members can live meaningful lives.
Why is it important to discuss Israel at 70 as an element of Cincinnati 2020?
Fred: Celebrating Israel at 70 is an important part of strengthening the connection between Jews in Cincinnati and Jews in Israel. One of the success metrics in the Connecting pillar of Cincinnati 2020 is that 75% of Jewish households will report that they feel connected to Israel. That is a goal Kathy and I feel particularly passionate about. By sponsoring the Israel at 70 programs in Cincinnati, we hope more Jewish families in Cincinnati will feel that connection.
Kathy: Israel at 70 is just one way Cincinnati families can connect with Israel. Between our Community Shlicha (Israeli Emissary) and Chaverim M’Israel (Friends from Israel), our P2G programs and our partnership with the city of Netanya, our Israelity speaker series, the Jewish and Israeli Film Festival, and the many Israel travel opportunities, I can’t imagine there is a community anywhere that does more to ensure that we connect with Israel.
Why should Israel at 70 be important to the community?
Fred: Israel is relatively young at 70 years old. Yet, it has accomplished so much in so many important areas, while at the same time defending all of its borders during its entire 70 years. How can that not be important to the community?
Kathy: We have to continue to engage with Israel and her people, as a community and as individuals. The global Jewish world is made up of about 14 million people. Six million live in Israel, and 6 million live in the United States. We are so much stronger together and need to continue to work as one united Jewish community.
Fred: We have chaired and participated in many missions to Israel. There is no better way to bond with members of your own community than to travel together to Israel. It creates a community within our Jewish Cincinnati community as well as with Israel. In 2016, nine congregations, 508 people, went on a community mission to Israel. Almost two years later, people still get together for Shabbat dinners every Friday night.
How can we help others understand the connection to and the importance of Israel?
Kathy: Our community invests in sending people to Israel and bringing Israel to the people of Cincinnati, which results in deep, personal, lifetime connections. Our P2G program allows people to connect with Israelis on a personal level, often without leaving home.
Fred: Cincinnati has put special focus on sending young people to Israel, to cultivate that connection early on. One of our primary concerns is that young people will disconnect with Israel. That’s why we as a community, through The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and the Jewish Federation, ensure that no young person can’t go to Israel because of affordability. Through Cincy Journeys, every young adult gets two travel grants to Israel. Being able to actually step foot in Israel is critical. Until you get to Israel, you’re not going to understand it.
Kathy: We’ve seen that first-hand in our family. Our three children, Jeremy, Molli, and Sophie have all participated in Israel programs sponsored by Cincy Journeys. In fact, Jeremy met his wife at Tel Aviv University, where he studied with the help of a grant from The Jewish Foundation. As a result, we have a wonderful daughter-in-law and two beautiful grandchildren.
What does our future connection to Israel look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
Kathy: Our future connection to Israel looks very strong, but it can always be stronger. As long as there are Jews in Cincinnati who are not connected to Israel, and who do not appreciate Israel’s importance, there is more work to do.
Fred: That’s why we’re so excited about the launch of Honeymoon Israel in Cincinnati. It will be another way young couples, particularly interfaith couples, will connect with each other, with Israel, and with their Jewish identities.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kathy: Just that we are excited about the upcoming Israel at 70 events! In February, everyone will enjoy the Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, including the opening talk by Israeli screenwriter Galit Roichman. Plus, people will have the opportunity to explore Israel’s Declaration of Independence from Rabbis and educators at We Declare. In March, the Koresh Dance Company will present an exciting and innovative program of their popular works. And in April, we will honor soldiers and victims of terror who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel on Yom HaZikaron.
Fred: Then the year-long celebration comes to a close with two big parties. The Mayerson JCC’s Yom HaAtzmaut celebration will be bigger and better than ever, with fun for family members of all ages. Finally, Israel at 70 will come to a close with Ethiopian-Israeli hip-hop duo Café Shachor Hazak (Strong Black Coffee) at Memorial Hall, wrapping up an incredible year.
Find out more about Cincinnati 2020 and its impact to date on the community, or meet the other people interviewed in this C2020 series. Find out about Israel at 70 here. Learn more about the Kanter’s personal connection to Israel here.
Cincinnati 2020 is just one of over fifty programs and agencies funded by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community. Together we can do almost anything.