Shep Englander — Federation Journal
The Power of Our Community: The Scoop in March
The Power of Our Community. The week before Super Sunday, I experienced the power of community in four unique events. The previous Sunday, we sponsored an “Issues Forum” as our annual event for Cincinnatians living in Florida. We’ve found that an “everything on the table” discussion format is the most engaging. Everyone had thoughtful questions and insights.
A few days later, one of our Board members decided to host a “Pop-Up Pre-Super Sunday fundraising event” to build excitement in the Orthodox community. Then I was honored to attend our Women’s Philanthropy’s “Big Event”—more than 300 women came together for cocktails, comedy, and conversation.
A couple of days later, we had a successful Super Sunday—probably the most diverse event in our Jewish community. Thank you to our amazing Super Sunday volunteers, and generous community members who answered the call and helped us raise awareness and dollars for critical needs.
Our first lesson—we definitely should NOT have four events in one week. But the more inspiring insight was that while each event drew a different segment of our community, what they all had in common was people taking time to show up because they valued connecting with others who are committed to our shared community, face to face.
Fighting Hate—Together. Within hours of news of the white supremacist massacre in New Zealand, the Clifton Mosque invited community leaders to attend a special service. I also attended an interfaith gathering at the West Chester mosque. I knew I had to attend, because I remembered that when I was in Pittsburgh, it was when women in hijabs walked into the synagogue service that I was bowled over by the power of community support. I had hoped never to have to repay that favor.
Many rabbis and community members attended. At both gatherings, the religious leaders said that we can’t fight anti-Muslim hate alone. We need to fight antisemitism and racism at the same time. That’s the power of building relationships with other communities.
Keeping Our Community SAFE. Our SAFE Cincinnati was one of the first Jewish community security initiatives to launch, six years ago. Now we are among the first cities to launch a proactive strategy of intelligence gathering, primarily by monitoring of public information sources, including social media. (The Los Angeles Jewish Federation was the first to launch this strategy). We are pleased to have recently recruited Dan Atchison to lead this new strategy. Dan is a retired FBI agent of 28 years. He has an impressive background in counterterrorism and SWAT matters.
A few weeks ago, SAFE Cincinnati Director Mark Dowd joined other security directors, Federation CEOs, and JCRC directors on an Ohio Jewish Communities trip to Washington, DC to advocate for increased security funding for nonprofits with increased risk of terror attack. The group met with Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, and Mark met with an aide for Brad Wenstrup. Our lawmakers were supportive and everyone left with specific next steps.
Investing in Our Community Leaders. A few years ago, Cincinnati became one of the 33 cities to graduate a Wexner Heritage Program class, a two-year educational intensive on Jewish history, thought, texts, and contemporary leadership challenges of the Jewish people. The program’s mission is to expand the vision of Jewish volunteer leaders and deepen their Jewish knowledge and confidence to exercise transformative leadership. Most of the graduates of Cincinnati’s first class have gone on to play high-impact roles across our community.
Over the past couple of months, applications were reviewed for Cincinnati’s second leadership class. Many more talented volunteers applied than the 20 openings available; this large pool shows the great promise of our community. The Wexner Foundation staff made difficult decisions about who to admit to this class to achieve a balanced and diverse group.
The Federation has stepped in to offer leadership roles on boards and committees of the Federation and our partner agencies to all the applicants who expressed an interest, regardless of whether they were selected for this class or not. We are excited and appreciative of the unique talents and strong interests of all our community members.
Thank you for caring about our community and what we do.
Stay connected: sign up for our newsletter here.