Doing Our Best for the Jewish People

Friends, with the arrival of September, the Board of Directors elected at our June Annual Meeting and Celebration takes office. In this week's Shabbat message, our new Board Chair, Cary Lakenbach, shares his hopes and intentions for our Federation. Shabbat Shalom! - Howard

Dear friends,

I have just started my term as Chair of the Federation. I am humbled by the responsibility, while eager to embrace the challenge. To represent the Federation and our community is an awesome undertaking, and I will work every day with our great and Greater Hartford to optimize the impact we make.

Friends, we - perhaps imperfectly at times - represent the entire Jewish community. Federation's mission, as I see it, is to perpetuate, enhance and treasure Jewish life. Broadly speaking, our core goals include the survival, vitality and revitalization of the Jewish people. Everything Federation does should reflect this mission and these goals.

To tangibly achieve this mission, we collaborate with others to identify community needs and opportunities and work in partnership with many to successfully address them.

My predecessor, Eric Zachs, and Howard Sovronsky, our President and CEO, have worked hard to strengthen our Federation and our community in many ways. I hope and intend to vigorously continue and expand this effort.

What should we do? What must we do? Here are some thoughts.
I heard a wonderful saying the other day: "If you can't solve the smaller problem, try to solve the bigger problem that encompasses it."

Applying this to our world, perhaps Federation should address seemingly intractable issues that have defied solution in the past. Our efforts would be collaborative and our solutions not prescriptive.  

We have already begun working in this direction. Federation has accepted the challenge of finding new and innovative ways to bring Jewish education to our community. Recognizing the increasing rate at which non-Orthodox individuals are marrying people of other faiths, our Federation applied and was selected to be a partner in a new and wide-ranging national interfaith initiative designed to engage young multi-faith families as they search for ways to incorporate Judaism into their lives. I am truly excited by this.

Perpetuating and enriching our Jewish community is at the heart of what we do, and to this end Federation is establishing the Greater Hartford Jewish Leadership Academy. The Academy will identify and train our future Jewish community leaders to respond to an ever-changing Jewish and global environment.

One goal I have is to reach and impact a broader swath of our community. I invite you to help me identify areas where we can effect positive change in a big way for many. One small way might be for Federation to sponsor Kiddush at various synagogues during the course of the year, so that we can meet many more of you and engage in a dialogue.

We must recognize that while Federation's donors are community members, they are investors too. They need to know that their dollars are being well spent. That can only happen if we report regularly on our work, and that in turn can only happen if we establish and utilize key performance indicators.

We have made many positive strides in enhancing our planning and grantmaking processes. We have streamlined the process and put greater emphasis on planning and meeting community needs. Our allocations process must move further in the direction of shared values, common priorities, and measurable outcomes.

All this discussion presumes there are dollars to allocate. Even if we have an exciting and effective story to tell - and make no mistake about it, we do - Federation cannot operate without the funds we collect through our Annual Campaigns. We have wonderful lay campaign leaders in Laurie Mandell and Dana Keller. Dear friends, they and we need your help and support to make our campaigns shorter and more effective.

In closing, please know that we do our best every day to do good for the Jewish people.

G-d bless you all, and Shabbat Shalom.


Cary Lakenbach
Chair of the Board

Caption: Cary Lakenbach lights Hanukkah candles with children at the Mandell JCC Early Childhood Center.


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