What's going on?
Beyond the Snapshot
As sleet falls right now outside my office window on a chilly February afternoon, I can’t keep my mind from wandering ahead six weeks from now, when I will be taking a short vacation to Cambodia. I look forward to being able to see Angkor Wat even more than I simply dream of being able to go outside wearing shorts. While I won’t blog about this adventure, as I did with my much more Jewishly-oriented journey to Ukraine, I am sure my Facebook friends will see their fair share of photographs. 

While I have no aesthetic expertise when it comes to photography, those pictures are what I would refer to by the highly technical term of "snapshots." They will represent an amazing place that I have always dreamed of visiting, but they certainly won’t be indicative of my everyday life. Without diminishing my appreciation for everything about our part of the world here in Upper Fairfield County, I would nevertheless love to be able to see amazing ancient temples and go outside to walk in warm weather every day, but that isn’t my reality. And so a snapshot is just that - a snapshot.

Professionally, the question that I have been asking myself, 18 months into my tenure as CEO of our still recently-merged Federation, is how we turn wonderful moments into pervasive norms, how we turn snapshots in time into portraits of our community.
Two wonderful recent examples - and events where in fact plenty of photos were taken - were last December's Community All-Star Staged Reading of Fiddler on the Roof and our recent Mitzvah Hero Awards event . While both programs were enjoyable for so many reasons, one of the most frequent comments that I received from attendees was, “It was so nice to be together with people from throughout our community. I got to see old friends, and there were so many people that I didn’t know at all.” 

Indeed, it was great to bring such diverse crowds together.  Fiddler attracted over 400 people by pulling together a cast drawn from 13 congregations and several other community organizations, and Mitzvah Heroes saw a capacity crowd of 275 by honoring individuals from 14 congregations. Rarely, if ever, in the three-year history of our merged Federation have such representative groups come together in the same place to celebrate our community. It is a powerful feeling. 

And, for the moment, like the photos I will be taking in Cambodia, those events are beautiful snapshots in time, but not a portrait of our everyday landscape.

As we move forward in 2018, one of our exciting challenges will be to better understand how we can take that wonderful feeling of togetherness and connection and harness it in such a way that we can provide even greater impact -- not only for our local Jewish community, but for our extended Jewish community around the world.

While it is certainly not every day that we will all be together singing, “If I Were a Rich Man,” there is indeed something richer in feeling that we are all part of something larger - a diverse and dynamic Jewish community. I invite you to join us in creating that new reality.
do good ~ feel good
Three extraordinary months for your family, a young Israeli "ambassador," and the Jewish community 
Book Buddies literacy volunteers read one-on-one for one hour a week with students at the Blackham Elementary School in Bridgeport.
events from our community partners
Do you have matured Israel bonds and don’t know how to redeem or reinvest them? Do you want to purchase Israel bonds as a gift, as part of your IRA or personal portfolio, or as a charitable donation?

Starting Thursday, February 22, Barbara Starr, the Connecticut registered representative for Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds, will be available the fourth Thursday of every month from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the Federation conference room at 4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport, to assist you with all your questions and provide confidential advice on all investment options.

To schedule a private appointment:

Sundays, March 4 & March 11
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Jewish Senior Services
4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport

Training materials and meals provided free of charge

To sign up or learn more about hospice training, please contact Ellen Ashkins: (203) 365-6417 / eashkins@jseniors.org .