The secular New Year always brings thoughts of resolutions. Whether they are focused on health, relationships or community, resolutions are important because they are a first step towards action. Faced with many changes this year, the Jewish Federation of Howard County resolved to try and do some things differently this year. We resolved to change the way we manage our 2016-2017 Campaign. Our mid-year result is very positive. We have helped educate our donor base about the value of pledging. Knowing what donors intend to contribute (and providing a 12-18 month period of time over which to actually make payments), allows us to budget with confidence and prioritize our financial priorities for the community. Additionally, we instituted a multi-year pledge capability, which provides future certainty and removes the need for that annual “pledge call.” For those of you who prefer to donate regularly without pledging, we appreciate your continued support as well. Another significant change was our resolve to reach a significant percentage of our Campaign pledge goal by December. While we didn’t quite make our aggressive goal of closing 80% of our Campaign, we did reach 75%, which is well ahead of the pace from previous years.
We resolved to deliver as much community building programming and outreach as we could support. Over the past month, we had a tremendously successful Pom/Lion Chai Tea that drew over 50 women to hear an impressive young woman talk about why she volunteers and gives to Federation, we hosted a joint CHAI Society/Knesset Club Latkes and Vodka night that drew over 70 donors to connect with one another, about 60 women were enthralled by an Israeli storyteller at our December Red Tent event, we entertained and educated over 20 young families through our Tots & Tales and Shabbat Tots programs, we participated in a seniors holiday party at the Bain Center and our Shlicha, Hadar Shahar, hosted a Hebrew Café. We resolved to continue developing young leaders and provided a “Federation 101” in our monthly jLeads session.
Unfortunately, we see increasing examples of intolerance and discrimination not only around the world but also in our county. Diversity is such a core value for Judaism and Howard County that it is extremely troubling to see such negative behavior in our schools and neighborhoods. It was my pleasure, therefore, to witness and participate in two community Chanukah candle lighting ceremonies – one for the Lubavitch Center in River Hill and the second hosted by our County Executive to celebrate and value the diversity of Howard County.
My hope for the New Year is that we all resolve to be more tolerant, understanding and helpful to each other to ensure that our community at large can remain the model community it was designed to be over 50 years ago.