Friday, June 15, 2012

More on Fairfield County Federations

I've received enthusiastic, positive feedback to my Shabbat-O-Gram from yesterday stating that the time has come to explore consolidation among the five Fairfield County federations - and, most significantly, I've heard it from all around the county, not just Stamford. Ironically, my sentiments were echoed almost verbatim in an editorial in this week's Connecticut Jewish Ledger entitled, "Nine is too many." I hadn't seen that editorial until it was pointed out to me by Ledger's editor, for which I'm grateful.  While this topic has been discussed for years, the timing seems perfect now for something to happen.  

I'm delighted to report that something is. At her request, I am including below an email sent to me by Nancy Mimoun, Stamford UJF's president.  Nancy has been working so hard to move our community forward during what has been a challenging year, and I appreciate her efforts and quick response. We are in conversation about having a public forum at some point soon involving some or all of the Fairfield Five's professional and lay leaders.  As Nancy's email details, some exciting partnering is already going on behind the scenes.  And as always, the local federation has my - and should have all of our - complete support.

Shabbat Shalom - and join us for services this evening (celebrating our graduates) and tomorrow morning, when we'll be discussing some of the ramifications of the landmark Jewish Community Study of Greater New York. 

From: Nancy Mimoun []
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:30 PM
To: Rabbi Joshua Hammerman; Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
Cc: Pam Ehrenkranz; Rob Zwang; Steve Friedlander; Steve Wendell; Norman Greenstein; Shellly Katz
Subject: 5 Federations of Fairfield County +1

Dear Josh:

    It was ironic that your Shabbat-o-Gram arrived as I was driving back to town with Steve Friedlander, the executive director of UJA Federation of Westport, Weston, Wilton and Norwalk (WWWN). He read your email out loud to me while I was at the wheel. We were heading home from a steering committee meeting of our Partnership 2Gether. As you may know, the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) is comprised of 12 Federations - the 9 in Connecticut and 3 in Massachusetts. Together with the municipality of Afula and the region of Gilboa we comprise our Partnership. Not only do we work well together,  but we also pool our funds to create a cooperative region-wide Jewish Federation presence, maximizing the impact of our charitable support that serves the people of our adopted region in Israel.

    Each of the Federations of Fairfield County do much good for their local community as well as for the global Jewish community. Needs are accessed, funds are raised and allocated. The Federations do community building, programming and educating. In some Federations there are no agencies, in others, many. Some communities are considered "rich", others not so much. Lives are changed for the better because of the work each Federation does. It has been noted however, that 2 or more Federations might be able to do "it" better together. With that in mind, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) began working with us several months ago to help us determine exactly how we can cooperate/collaborate/merge.

   Just last week, on June 5, the first meeting was held in Westport with professional and lay representatives from the 5 Fairfield County Federations* as well as the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut. It was facilitated by two consultants from JFNA. We met for over 4 hours to discuss ways of working together. Prior to the meeting, JFNA researched our individual Federations and conducted interviews with lay members of our communities in order to create an audit so we could see just how similar and/or different we really are.

    By the end of the meeting, we came up with several different programs that 2 or more Federations will work on together and open up to the rest of the Federations. It was also agreed that we need to look deeper, beyond just collaborating on programming. To do this there will be more meetings facilitated by JFNA. The possibilities and will are there as well as the energy behind it. Keeping the status quo is not an option, how to change is the issue.

    UJF of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien is working with the other Federations and JFNA. Together we will change. Into what? That remains to be seen. But know that the goal is to become stronger, to be able to do more good for more Jews locally and globally. While we are working towards this goal, we still need to meet the needs that are here, in Israel and of our brethren around the world. To do this, UJF needs your support Josh, and that of your congregation.

    Our local UJF has had a challenging year and we are meeting the challenge head first. 

Thank you,

Nancy Mimoun, President
United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien

The 5 Federations of Fairfield County are:
UJA Federation Greenwich
United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien
UJA/Federation Westport, Weston, Wilton, Norwalk
UJA/Federation of Eastern Fairfield County
The Jewish Federation of Greater Danbury, CT & Putnam County, NY

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