Seven months ago I had the honor of joining the Jewish Alliance as its President and CEO. Since that time our team has been busy talking to community members, examining our past, and working with our Board of Directors and other stakeholders to determine what our next few years will look like.
I have seen the wonderful things our organization does to grow and improve our community and I have also heard how and where we have fallen short. I’m excited to share with you what the Jewish Alliance is planning over the next few years, and also what you can expect from us.
At the Alliance, we believe our role is to help create a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community, and that means providing the tools for Rhode Islanders to engage with their Judaism on their own terms. It also means creating an atmosphere at the Alliance that welcomes everyone, regardless of how they celebrate the vibrant faith, traditions, or customs of Judaism. Thanks to the generosity of our community, the Dwares JCC has undergone significant renovations. As always, whether you are Jewish, Jew-ish, or not Jewish, you are welcome at the Alliance, and at our events and programs.
In an effort to demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness, we have already made changes to how we operate. We recently extended our hours on Saturday evenings in the Fitness Center so that Dwares JCC members who observe Shabbat have an opportunity to honor their commitment to personal wellness after Shabbat ends. We are also participating in a year-long leadership training with Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. Led and supported by LGBTQ Jews and straight allies, Keshet cultivates the spirit and practice of inclusion in all parts of the Jewish community.
In addition to inclusiveness, you can also expect the Alliance to be more open in the future. The ideals of inclusivity and openness may seem similar, but we define them differently.
Moving forward, the Alliance will work to mobilize the Jewish community to better serve the community-at-large. The Community Relations Council will continue to lead the way in this area, with a focus on grassroots organizing and local advocacy on issues important to our community and the larger Rhode Island community. Where our Jewish values dictate, you can expect the Alliance to take action on an issue, whether we are leading the charge or standing with others as an ally.
Our commitment to openness does not end with the Community Relations Council. We will develop stronger partnerships with other organizations – secular and non – along with synagogues and congregations, creating a variety of programs for everyone to connect with the Jewish community. And you can expect us to be more visible throughout the state, whether in Westerly, Woonsocket, or anywhere in between.
Our promise continues beyond openness and inclusivity, to create a stronger more vibrant community. It includes our obligation to make the Alliance as transparent an organization as possible. We have already made available our most recent audit and IRS return on our website, and in the coming months you will be able to find more information about the costs of our programs there as well. Additionally, we will continue to look for ways to involve more people in our work, in an effort to be even more community-driven.
Inclusiveness. Openness. Transparency. These are the tenets of our promise to you. A stronger more vibrant Jewish community is something no single organization can create alone. It is only possible with you. We hope that you will join us in this journey, and I look forward to working with you to make this vision a reality.
President and CEO
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island