Why We Do Not Have Time for a Summer Vacation

Last week, I met with one of our community's most generous philanthropists. He assumed that like most of Los Angeles, our Federation slows down during the summer.

I explained that because of the depth and breadth of our high-impact work, we work as hard in July as we do in February or October.

There is no “summer vacation” for our Federation and our staff and lay leadership.

He expressed his anxiety about the upcoming year on our college campuses. I reminded him that our staff has been working on our eight college campuses with our partners and directly with our students over the last few years. We have built important relationships and are engaging an increasing number of young people in Jewish campus life, bringing hundreds of young people to Israel and providing significant assistance to Jewish campus leadership.

We have built a foundation that enables us to be proactive, not reactive, in combating BDS, while at the same time reaching out to the Jewish students and supporting their Jewish journeys.

I told him that with our city-wide Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative, we are building our relationships earlier than ever. 

I stressed the word "relationship" because that word defines our work in every area of Jewish engagement. We have not only doubled the number of young people going to Israel from elementary school (Tel Aviv-Los Angeles School Twinning) to Birthright Israel, internship program Onward Israel and the new trip for young married couples on Honeymoon Israel, but we are connecting with each young person before they leave and engaging them from the moment they unpack their bags back in Los Angeles.

He had just read a depressing article on Millennials. I smiled and told him that the magazine or writer obviously hasn't been here in Los Angeles. We had an overwhelming number of applicants for our nationally acclaimed community leadership programs CLI (Community Leadership Institute) and NLP (Rautenberg New Leaders Project). The 90 current CLI and NLP participants are committed to a life in leadership, and the incredible teens who worked in Jewish organizations across the city (in the Community Internship Program) are right behind them. NuRoots, our Federation’s neighborhood-based strategy for meeting young adults and reimagining Jewish traditions, is driving this year’s Love Angeles, a city-wide festival celebrating love in honor of Tu B’Av. The opportunities for engagement and involvement are endless.

He thanked me for helping his grandson begin his Jewish journey with his monthly book from PJ Library® program in Los Angeles. I told him that there are now 11,000 Los Angeles PJ Library families, most of them interfaith families, and that there is now increased programming available out of the home and in the neighborhood.

We continued our conversation about my recent trips to Russia and Israel on Federation missions to meet hundreds of others whose lives we touch — frail elderly, Israelis suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and other vulnerable members of society.

After an hour, he hugged me and told me that I needed to add one more thing to our to-do list.

He told me that we needed to be as committed to telling our story as we are to writing it and making it happen. He was right. That’s why I am contacting you directly about how we are touching lives this summer in L.A., Israel and abroad — starting with yours.

Stay tuned for more. And enjoy the rest of summer.  

Tags: From the CEO

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