Today is February 23, 2018 -
I’ll start by thanking the dozens of community members who responded to my article last week. I wrote about my concerns with the growing civil discourse in our community, not created but certainly fueled by the Iran Nuclear Agreement and the speakers that Federation has sponsored regarding the Agreement. Out of character, I even emoted a bit. This week I am done emoting, and I am back in “problem-solving mode.”
You offered some very good advice, and we have already begun working on many of your suggestions, including reaching out to local rabbis and other community leaders for advice, as well as my colleagues around the country, to see what has been successful in their communities.
My biggest take-away message is that the community would like to see Federation take a leadership role in creating a positive community environment. This is not to say that anyone wants Federation to act like “Big Brother” enforcing an environment, but rather to set the example for the community to follow.
As a first step, we have begun work on bringing “Resetting the Table” to our community for this fall/winter. This program, through our national partner JCPA (Jewish Council for Public Affairs), “builds the capacity of American Jews to talk, study, and deliberate together on Israel across differences in background and views.” We look forward to partnering with the Capital District Board of Rabbis on this important program.
Additionally, we will continue to review our speaker selection to ensure that we represent the many opinions in our community. We will not always succeed, and you will let me know when that happens, but we are committed to trying.
During this introspective period leading up to the High Holidays, I apologize for Federation’s role in offending and contributing to any rift within our Jewish community. Next year should be a year of unity and peace.