New Orleanians opened their Times-Picayune on Sunday morning to the front page article “Sounding the Call,” by Bruce Nolan about the Jewish community’s strategic planning process. That same afternoon over 130 members of the local Jewish community gathered at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus to hear status reports concerning the planning process, to vote on priorities, and to share their ideas of how best to deal with post-Katrina challenges.
“The Jewish community of
Federation Executive Director Michael Weil, lay leader Julie Wise Oreck, and Task Force chairs, who have been driving the strategic planning process since last summer, reported on their progress to date, highlighting themes such as attracting newcomers, embracing those who have left the city, fundraising outside the Jewish community, retaining high levels of engagement within the community, revitalizing and expanding the Jewish day school by making it more accessible, achieving high levels of collaboration among community members and institutions, branding New Orleans as a destination, and including our city as a “Jewish People Project.”
Following these reports, a general discussion elicited concerns such as the dire state of the
Given the opportunity to vote on a list of priorities for the Jewish community, the group identified “welcoming and attracting new families to New Orleans” and “outreach to the unaffiliated and intermarried” as its top concerns, with “Jewish day school education” as third, “engaging Jewish students at local colleges” fourth, and “youth activities’ and “young adult activities” close behind. Thus, all participants are looking to assure the long term survival and health of our local Jewish community by nurturing the younger generations.
Steven Bingler, chief planning coordinator with Concordia Architects, gave a presentation on the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP), which he described as “a marvel of democratic and participatory planning.” He urged his audience to see the enormous amount of individual input in a positive light, assuring the group that some order has emerged from the chaos. Noting that until now, very little if any, planning had been done for most city services, the city of
Sunday’s participants produced a wide range of creative ideas and suggestions—from the general to the specific—which the task forces will continue to refine and implement. Discussions included what to communicate to the national community about
The meeting was attended by Howard Feinberg of United Jewish Communities, who has continually worked for the rebuilding of the
In all, the afternoon was another feather in the cap of our Jewish community, with all denominations and traditions well represented. It resulted in a wealth of suggestions which the Federation and Task Forces will incorporate into a strategic plan. Several of the proposals are already being implemented, others will be implemented in the next few years, with the goal of growing and revitalizing our Jewish community. Thanks to all who participated in the process.