How do you transform a ragged mass of slaves escaping unimaginable tyranny into a functioning, viable society whose laws, principles and values would help form today's modern world? It all started in the desert, when Moses was commanded to organize this mass of people into groups and then count them.
In this week's Torah portion, B' Midbar, we learn about the early formation of our people, how they organized, how they were counted and how these actions helped create a sense of connection and interdependence. We became one people, comprised of many different groups, each forming their own identity but together sharing values, laws, practices and traditions that have endured for thousands of years.
Today, standing up to be counted is still a fundamental responsibility we all have as members of a civil society. It demonstrates our connection to the whole while also allowing us to stand out as unique individuals. Perhaps more important, periodic check-ins give us a better understanding of how far we have come, what accomplishments we should celebrate and what we can improve. To maintain and grow a vibrant Jewish community in this time of rapid change, we must better understand who we are, what our current needs are, and which activities and values we collectively hold as most important.
In June 2016, more than 1,200 community members across Greater Hartford shared their perspectives through the JMAP online survey, resulting in the collection of 1.2 million data points. JMAP stands for Jewish Measurement, Action and Progress - and armed with all these data points, we established a baseline to measure our community's progress in the key areas most critical to our continued growth. Even more exciting, we are about to roll out the next phase: an online JMAP dashboard that will be updated regularly so that community members, organizations and funders can evaluate changes over time, assess the effectiveness of their efforts, and decide which actions to take next.
As we await the rollout of the full dashboard in the next few weeks, here are a few morsels of data to savor this Shabbat:
- Jewish Greater Hartford has remarkable gender diversity in its lay leadership. When taken as a whole, our organizational boards include 50% men and 50% women.
- Teen program participation has increased by 21.62% since 2016 - from 777 teens to 945 teens.
- We have also seen a total increase in Jewish institutional fundraising and endowment.
Please stay tuned for an announcement about the launch of the full JMAP dashboard. In our Jewish community, we are not just being counted - we are illuminating our progress and forging the path to a more vibrant future.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbat and Shavuot.
President and CEO