January 16, 2024

Many people have asked me over the years: "What exactly does an Executive Director of a nonprofit do?" They tend to be able to see and understand the programs and services that our Jewish Federation provides. However, it is the behind-the-scenes work we do that is often hard to clearly articulate or describe, which sometimes has the most significant impact on our community. I'll give an example of something that happened this past week to illustrate this.

As you might be aware, many city councils across the country are being asked by community members to adopt resolutions, calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas and encouraging Israel to end their hostilities towards the Palestinians. As is often the case, city councils (and city staff) develop their resolutions on their own and do not consider how the respective resolutions may impact the community.

Thankfully, through the ongoing relationship-building, many of our local Jewish professionals have developed, including myself, with local city council members and mayors; one local city considering adopting a resolution reached out to find out what our Jewish community feels. Last Tuesday, Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz, an ADL Regional Director, and I were invited to a meeting with Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval, Acting City Manager Anita Gutierrez, and City Council Member John Nolte. They wanted to hear the local Jewish community's perspective on the current situation. It was a fascinating conversation and one that each of us appreciated. Then, three days later, Mayor Sandoval held a follow-up meeting to share the city's proposed resolution language and get our feedback.

It's crucial to understand how meaningful these conversations are, and they are only possible because of the ongoing relationship-building. By having this frank conversation, I could share why particular language should be included or excluded from the final draft of the resolution.

It is unclear at this point whether the City of Pomona will use the recommendations we discussed during the meeting… we will have to wait and see how things transpire. But in the end, the fact that the city reached out and wanted to discuss their perspective with our local Jewish community is a very positive step. And it allowed me to make sure I could share our Jewish community's stand and viewpoint. So much of our Jewish Federation's outreach these last several years, including the recent work we did to combat antisemitism and all forms of hate locally, is paying off.

Sometimes, people don't always know how their donation helps an organization. However, I hope this example illustrates how the support we receive from community members allows us to do our critical work. Imagine what our community would be like if we did not have a Jewish Federation, working daily towards our mission to build community by strengthening and enhancing Jewish life. Thank you to everyone who helps make this possible by donating to support our Jewish Federation.


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